Each day seems to bring new and disturbing revelations about the mental state of accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner in the days and months leading up to the attack. The Wall Street Journal has unearthed 131 posts written in an online forum for gamers between April and June 2010. Some of the comments are chatter about weight lifting, rejection by women, or his difficulties job hunting (he wrote that he hadn’t had a paycheck in six months, submitted 65 applications without an interview, and confessed to a “mental breakdown” after getting fired from five jobs). Other ramblings troubled members of the forum who worried whether Loughner had mental-health issues or was abusing drugs. The postings “exhibit fixations on grammar, the education system, government and currency, which some friends and acquaintances have described separately in the days since the attack. They are peppered with displays of misogyny.” In a comment in early May, Loughner asked, “Does anyone have aggression 24/7?” Later that month, he wrote, “I bet your hungry….Because i know how to cut a body open and eat you for more then a week. ;-)”
In an extended interview, Zane Guttierz, a friend of Loughner’s who lived outside a trailer in Tucson and met him occasionally to shoot cans for target practice, also described him as unhinged. “He was a nihilist and loves causing chaos, and that is probably why he did the shooting, along with the fact he was sick in the head.” Police say they were called to Loughner’s family home on more than one occasion, although what prompted the visits is still unknown.
Despite mounting evidence of his bat-shit insanity (as if the zombie mug shot didn’t speak for itself), legal experts predict Loughner will have trouble successfully pleading that defense in court. Rules were tightened after John W. Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty using the defense after his 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. What we’re more likely to see is Loughner’s lawyers using mental-health problems as a way to fight the death penalty if he should be convicted.
Just to show Loughner’s not the only crazy one, Bloomberg reports that the attack has actually prompted Arizona gun owners to run out and buy Glocks. Sales of the $499 semi-automatic pistol “popular with police, sport shooters, and gangsters” have doubled at some stores in Mesa and Phoenix. Gun laws aside, it seems like Loughner would have been mentally disturbed regardless of what state he lived in or the level of rancor of political discourse. But massacre-motivated Glock-grabs don’t exactly help Arizona’s reputation.
Postings of a Troubled Mind [WSJ]
Police Say They Visited Tucson Suspect’s Home Even Before Rampage [NYT]
Legal Strategy Could Hinge on Mental Assessment [NYT]
Glock Pistol Sales Surge in Aftermath of Arizona Shootings [Bloomberg]