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Suspect’s violent descent came on chaotic night
Question of the Day
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — He wandered through the dark streets of his hometown, meandering from one store to another on a furious all-night excursion as he prepared what authorities say were the final steps in taking revenge on a world from which he’d become progressively alienated.
Jared Loughner checked into a down-and-out motel. He picked up photos showing him holding a Glock 19 while wearing only a bright red G-string. He bought ammunition on one of three trips to two different Walmarts.
He called a high-school pot-smoking buddy, ran away from his father into a cactus-dotted desert and updated his MySpace profile to say, “Goodbye friends.”
Michelle Martinez ran into Loughner during his rambling odyssey. She and some friends were hanging out in the neighborhood when a sullen figure emerged from the darkness in a black hooded sweatshirt and startled them. Loughner picked his way through the group rather than walk around them, offering a deep, distant “What’s up?” He then quickened his pace and disappeared into the darkness.
The encounter epitomizes Loughner’s final hours as he became increasingly unhinged, culminating, authorities say, with him opening fire on a crowd of people at an event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded amid a barrage of bullets from a Glock 19.
Officials do not know what pushed the 22-year-old mentally disturbed loner over the edge, but interviews, records and a police chronology released Friday provide a fuller picture of his movements that in many ways reflect his scattered mind.
It would all play out within a few miles from the modest, single-story home where he grew up and lived all his life — save for a brief attempt he made at living in an apartment by himself.
The chaotic night, according to the official law enforcement chronology, began at 11:35 p.m. when he dropped off a roll of 35 mm film at a Walgreens.
In the next hour he stopped at a Circle K gas station/convenience store and checked into a Motel 6, a $37.99-a-night spot popular with truckers near a Long John Silver’s and other fast-food restaurants.
If he slept at all that night, it wasn’t for long.
At 1:45 a.m., he was back outside his parents’ home, where he ran into Martinez and her friends.
At about 2 a.m., Loughner called an old friend, Bryce Tierney. They had been confidants in high school but hadn’t talked for months — another in a series of friends with whom Loughner severed ties amid his increasingly bizarre behavior.
Loughner used to bang the drums in Tierney’s garage while his friend jammed on the guitar. They used to talk philosophy, about how the modern world was draining people of individualism. They got high, as police found out when they pulled the two over in September 2007 and Tierney admitted they smoked a joint in a van on the way back from a convenience store.
Early Saturday, Tierney was up watching a real-life ghost chasers show on TV. When his cell phone rang, the incoming number was listed as blocked, so he didn’t answer.
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