Shooter of US congresswoman may have had accomplice

US law enforcement searches for motive for shooting that killed 6 and left Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life with gunshot to head.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 9, 2011 10:06
3 minute read.
Jared Loughner, accused shooter of US politician

Loughner 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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The man accused of shooting US Congresswoman (Dem.) Gabrielle Giffords in the head in an attack that also killed six people outside a grocery store in Arizona was "mentally unstable" and may have acted with an accomplice, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Saturday.  

Arizona law enforcement officials on Sunday released a photo of a possible accomplice in the Saturday shooting.

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The Pima County Sheriff's department released a photo from a security camera of a white man with dark hair, 40-45 years old who may have possibly helped Jared Loughner carry out the deadly attack.

While Loughner's motivation for the shooting was not immediately known, authorities described a young man with a troubled past and neighbors recalled a 22-year-old who often kept to himself.

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One former classmate said the accused gunman often did his own thing. Another described him as a student who disrupted class with occasional outbursts.

Neighbors said Loughner wasn't hostile toward anyone but certainly didn't warm up to anyone, either.

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"He was a guy in high school who definitely had his opinions on stuff and didn't seem to care what people thought of him," said Grant Wiens, 22, who told The Associated Press he went to high school and had a class at Pima Community College with Loughner.

Loughner was in custody Saturday after authorities said he opened fire outside a grocery store as Giffords met with voters. The rampage left the congresswoman in critical condition. Arizona's chief federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others were killed.

Authorities said the accused gunman targeted the three-term congresswoman, but an exact motivation was not immediately known. Many questioned whether the nation's polarized political climate had played a role, even as Loughner's political views remained unclear late Saturday.

Federal law enforcement officials poured over versions of a MySpace page that belonged to Loughner and over a YouTube video published weeks ago under an account "Classitup10" and linked to him. The MySpace page, which was removed within minutes of the gunman being identified by officials, included a mysterious "Goodbye friends" message published hours before the shooting and exhorted his friends to "Please don't be mad at me."

On his MySpace page, Loughner spoke of how he liked to read and he also wrote repeatedly about literacy, complaining that the rate was especially low in the congressional district where he lived.

"The majority of people, who reside in District-8 are illiterate hilarious. I don't control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure," he said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Wiens also said Loughner used to speak critically about religion. He also talked about how he liked to smoke pot.

"He wasn't really too keen on religion it seemed like," Grant Wiens, 22, told The Associated Press. "I don't know if floating through life is the right term or whatever, but he was really just into doing his own thing."

Loughner's MySpace profile indicated he attended and graduated from school in northwest Tucson and had taken college classes. He did not say if he was employed.

Tamara Crawley, director of the Marana Unified School District in Tucson, said Loughner attended Mountain View High School in Tucson for three years but withdrew after completing his junior year in 2006. Crawley did not know why Loughner had withdrawn from Mountain View High and it was not clear if he had transferred to another school in the area.

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