- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The suspect in the Tucson rampage that killed six people and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded with a bullet to the brain will spend up to four months in psychiatric treatment, but a surviving victim said as far as he’s concerned the man could stay there the rest of his life.

Eric Fuller spoke shortly after a federal judge ruled Wednesday that Jared Lee Loughner was currently incompetent to stand trial for the Jan. 8 attack.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered Loughner to a federal facility in Missouri, where doctors will try to give him enough treatment to bring him to a point where he understands the case against him.

Mental health experts concluded that Loughner, a 22-year-old college dropout, suffers from schizophrenia.

At one point during the Wednesday’s hearing, Loughner lowered his head to within inches of his table and then raised it and began yelling, prompting federal marshals had to drag him from the packed courtroom.

“You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know that the boy is disturbed,” said Fuller, who was shot in the knee and the back during the shooting spree at a Giffords‘ event outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket.

Fuller said he wouldn’t be bothered if Loughner spends the rest of his life in such a mental facility.

“Hinckley has been gone for forever,” Fuller said, referring to John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago and has since been committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Giffords staff member Ron Barber also was wounded in the attack but didn’t attend the hearing. “It’s a little too emotional,” he said.

Barber added he wasn’t surprised by the judge’s ruling, and said he trusts the judicial process.

Loughner spent five weeks in March and April at the federal facility in Springfield, Mo., where he was examined by psychologist Christina Pietz and psychiatrist Matthew Carroll. The two were asked to determine if Loughner understands the consequences of the case.

Burns viewed 18 hours of the experts’ videotaped interviews with Loughner. He said the experts’ reports and videos were confidential, but he summarized their findings at the hearing.

The judge said Carroll concluded Loughner’s mental health has declined in the past two or three years and his thinking on legal issues is confused. Carroll believes Loughner doesn’t grasp the gravity of the charges and is instead fixated on inconsequential issues.

Pietz concluded Loughner’s thoughts are random and that he suffers from delusions, the judge said. She noted Loughner gave nonsensical answers to questions and doesn’t understand the role of judges or jurors.

Neither expert thought Loughner was faking his mental health problems, with one of the therapists saying Loughner doesn’t want to be perceived as mentally ill. A hearing to revisit Loughner’s mental competency is set for Sept. 21.

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