Since the elder Loughners have not been accessible to the media since the tragedy, so this would be the first time the public would hear the family’s reaction to their son’s arrest. This WSJ article paints a strange portrait of the Arizona shooting suspect’s parents, perhaps unnecessarily negative since, as usual, the MSM has to hunt around for neighbors to talk to to fill space on a hot story.
Even in normal times, many on his block describe the elder Mr. Loughner as a reclusive man who had little time for neighborhood niceties…The parents told investigators they didn’t realize the severity of their son’s problems, say people familiar with the matter.
…Residents interviewed on the block said they barely knew the Loughners. Stephen Woods, who lives next door, had run-ins with Mr. Loughner over uncollected trash that he said were vituperative and hostile.
Once, Mr. Woods said, Mr. Loughner spotted him from a distance in a Wal-Mart parking lot and repeatedly shouted “Trash people!”
Speaking of filling space/air time, I saw a pathetic interview the other day on MSNBC. I don’t recall the anchor, but she was interviewing some young woman who “knew” Jared Lee Loughner.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the person didn’t know anything about the suspect that was worthwhile — she last saw/interacted with him in 2007! All she could convey is that he told her that he said he wanted to “change the world.” Of course that only led the anchor to try to ascertain what that meant, which led nowhere. The whole segment was a flush down the crapper. I know producers want to book “experts” but this was so pathetic I just had to turn the channel.
There was an interview with Tucson’s Mayor Bob E. Walkup by Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour about the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She asked about the tragedy’s effect on Tucson, and his thoughts on the political discourse that may have fueled the rampage. The transcript is below the fold.
GWEN IFILL: Now, for more on the tragedy in Arizona, we turn to Mayor Bob Walkup. He joins us from Tucson.
Welcome, Mr. Mayor.
You are quoted at saying this weekend that this was a tragic lesson.
ROBERT WALKUP, Mayor of Tucson, Arizona: Well, it is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for the city of Tucson clearly.
But it’s also a tragedy for the state of Arizona, and I think it’s a national tragedy that something like this has occurred. It is a time for learning and it’s a time for prayer. And it’s a time for understanding how something like this could really happen.
GWEN IFILL: As an elected official, as a lawmaker in Arizona, in Tucson, what is it that you think you could have, should have, should be done to avoid something like this?
ROBERT WALKUP: Well, I can tell you that since I got word of this on Saturday morning, and I went directly to the hospital, and then late in the evening participated in the candlelight vigil outside the hospital, I think it’s becoming very clear that the citizens of the city of Tucson believe that it’s time for us to get back to civility.
It’s time for us to start caring about each other. It’s time for us to be kind to each other. And we really need to start the process, so that all of us don’t have to fear an event like this that takes the lives of six people and injures another 14 people. That’s what I’m hearing from the citizens of Tucson.
GWEN IFILL: Are they asking you to do anything in particular, rather than pray and hope that things get better? Is there anything specific they’re asking of their elected leaders?
ROBERT WALKUP: Oh, absolutely.
And I think that they’re — not only what they’re asking, but we really need to take a look at the issue of security and how did something like this happen. And a lot of people are trying to figure that out.
But what I think that we need to do is, we really need to — as a society, we need to establish civility, a pledge that all of us are going to get back to how we treat each other and kindness. That does not mean that we can’t debate issues.
But we don’t have to target people. And we don’t have to deal with people in great anger. I — this is a time for caring. This is time for understanding.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Mayor, you’re making a link between people caring for each other and civil discourse and a person who allegedly is unstable, mentally unstable.
In fact, we hear tonight late reports that his family has built a barricade and won’t let people in the house, the FBI in the house. How do you make that link between those two kinds of behavior?
ROBERT WALKUP: Well, I think this is something that society has really got to work with, because mental illness is not just a local issue. This is a national issue, where we really need to put more emphasis in really understanding mental disease and mental issues.
This individual had, apparently, a considerable history that we should have begun to understand. And we really need to — we in the political jobs in support of the people that have elected us, we get that kind of e-mail all the time. And I think that it is time for us to say, you know, these are serious threats that we get.
We just cannot dismiss them as being somebody that cannot effect damage within a community. We need to take it seriously.
GWEN IFILL: You have been to the hospital. And you have met with Gabrielle Giffords’ husband and also relatives of other victims. How are they holding up?
ROBERT WALKUP: Well, we’re down to a total number of the — total number of 14 people that were injured that were treated.
We’re down to 10 people, and it looks as though another three have been released today. So I think we’re going to be starting tomorrow with about five to six people that are still — maybe seven — still remaining in the hospital.
They’re doing well. Gabby is doing as well as we could expect. Her husband and I had a chance yesterday to go to her bedside and just stand and kind of look at her and kind of talk to her, even though she couldn’t hear us, and just pray for her recovery, which we all believe is essential and a great possibility for her to come back and do the job that she was elected to do.
GWEN IFILL: You obviously worked closely with the congresswoman in her years in Congress. She’s been there for a few years. You have been mayor for a while.
What kind of a colleague was she? What kind of a congresswoman was she, is she?
ROBERT WALKUP: Well, I — yes, is she.
And it goes back to the time before she was even elected to the state legislature, back in the late 1990s, when she was a businessperson in the city of Tucson. I knew her then. But, interestingly enough, in the 2000-2003, she was a legislator and we worked on what we can do in Tucson to ensure that the University Medical Center had a very high-tech, functional, world-class trauma center.
She was involved in that process back in 2003. And we have one of the best. And, as I looked down at her, I was reminded of how we worked together to provide the trauma center that is saving her life. And it was — for me, it was a very moving event.
GWEN IFILL: Are there any plans so far for a public memorial or observance?
ROBERT WALKUP: Yes, there is.
As a matter of fact, we haven’t scheduled it yet, but we believe that we’re going to try to get everybody together, bring in all the people that would like to — in a public way to be able to say we’re praying for all of the victims, the people that have died. Funerals are scheduled for this week and next for all those people that just want to come together.
I believe that it’s going to be some time this Friday that we will have a public memorial service in the city of Tucson. For all of the people that want to come and say, boy, we’re sorry, and we’re praying for you, and we’re praying for gabby to recover and get back on the job. We love her dearly.
GWEN IFILL: Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, thank you so much for joining us.
JIM LEHRER: The aftermath of the Tucson massacre unfolded on two fronts today. The accused gunman was in court, while Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords lay gravely wounded in a hospital.
“NewsHour” correspondent Tom Bearden begins our extended coverage.
TOM BEARDEN: Mourners gathered again today at a makeshift memorial in front of the University Medical Center in Tucson for wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the shootings.
Inside, her doctors continued to express guarded optimism.
DR. G. MICHAEL LEMOLE JR., Chief of Neurosurgery, University Medical Center: With regard to Congresswoman Giffords’ recovery at this phase in the game, no change is good. And we have no change. That is to say, she is still following those basic commands. On top of that, the CAT scans are showing that there is no progression of that swelling. We’re not out of the woods yet.
TOM BEARDEN: During the evening, a steady stream of well wishers came to add to the memorial, leaving flowers, lighting candles.
WOMAN: I mean, it’s just an absolutely profane act. It’s shocking. It’s been surreal. And, you know, it really has, you know, obviously taken a toll on everybody here in Tucson. It’s very, very saddening, deeply saddening.
TOM BEARDEN: Giffords remains sedated three days after being shot in the head at point-blank range.
She had been greeting constituents at a supermarket in her Tucson area district when a lone gunman shot her, then opened fire on the crowd. The suspected shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was apprehended at the scene.
Six were killed and 14 others were injured, including Giffords — among the dead, Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’ director of community outreach, who had organized the day’s event, federal Judge John Roll. He had just left church and stopped by to support Giffords, a good friend. Phyllis Schneck, a retired librarian, Dorothy Morris — her husband is also among the wounded — Dorwin Stoddard, a retired construction worker, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, recently elected to her school’s student council. She was there because of her interest in government.
In Phoenix, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pronounced her state grieving, but strong. She appealed for unity in her annual state of the state address. And she praised the young intern who applied pressure to Giffords’ head wound soon after the shooting. The young man used his bare hands on a spot where a bullet entered her head and applied pressure to stem blood loss.
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), Arizona: Daniel Hernandez, a University of Arizona junior, showed no fear in the face of gunfire. His quick action in going to Gabby Giffords’ aid likely saved her life.
Daniel is here today. And I’m going to ask him to stand and receive the thanks of a very grateful state.
Arizona is in pain, yes. Our grief is profound. We are yet in the first hours of our sorrow, but we have not been brought down. We will never be brought down.
TOM BEARDEN: In Washington, President Obama led the nation in a moment of silence to remember the victims.
Down Pennsylvania Avenue, members of Congress and staff filled the steps of the Capitol, and, at the Supreme Court, justices paused between arguments on two cases. And in Earth orbit, Giffords’ brother-in-law, Commander Scott Kelly, led NASA ground control in a moment of silence from his position aboard the International Space Station.
SCOTT KELLY, NASA Commander: As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.
The crew of ISS Expedition 26 and the flight control centers around the world would like to observe a moment of silence in honor of all the victims, which include my sister-in-law Gabrielle Giffords, a caring and dedicated public servant.
TOM BEARDEN: And, at the White House this afternoon, President Obama again expressed remorse.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: Obviously, all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses.
We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing, and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
TOM BEARDEN: The shopping center where the shootings took place partially reopened this morning, but the crime scene itself is still surrounded by yellow tape.
FBI agents used metal detectors to comb through the gravel in the parking lot median looking for more evidence. The accused shooter is maintaining his silence, according to police. He made his first appearance in federal court in Phoenix.
Loughner made no statement, but answered questions from the judge and said he understood the charges against him. He was ordered held without bail. Authorities filed five counts against Loughner yesterday, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress. More charges are expected.
Meanwhile, more details emerged about Loughner’s life before the shooting, with friends and fellow students painting the picture of a disturbed and paranoid social outcast. He had a history of drug use and was rejected by the Army for failing a drug test when he attempted to join after high school in 2008.
This fall, he spiraled deeper, dropping out of community college after being cited for multiple disruptions and receiving a suspension in September. Loughner was told he would need a mental health review before returning.
In a June 14 e-mail, a classmate wrote: “We have a mentally unstable person in the class. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news after he has come into class with an automatic weapon.”
Prosecutors also said a letter found in a safe at the home where Loughner lived with his parents indicated he planned the rampage ahead of time. The note contained the words, “I planned ahead, my assassination and Giffords’.” There was also a letter from the congresswoman thanking Loughner for attending an event at a Tucson mall in 2007, indicating they had had previous contact.
?MDNM?CAITLIN ANN PARKER, Friend of Jared Lee Loughner: He asked her some question that made absolutely no sense to me. But he said: “I can’t believe she doesn’t understand it. Politicians just don’t get it.”
TOM BEARDEN: Also providing clues, several YouTube videos posted by Loughner featuring rambling text against a dark background. In one, he described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about illiteracy in Giffords’ Arizona congressional district. And versions of MySpace page since pulled from the Internet included a mysterious “Goodbye friends” message published hours before the attack. He also added, “Please don’t be mad at me.”
Saturday’s deadly shooting spree was not a surprise to one of Loughner’s neighbors.
MAN: I told my mother I thought he was a serial killer the first time I saw him.
TOM BEARDEN: Back in Washington, congressional business was postponed, including a vote scheduled this week to repeal the president’s health care law.
Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York said she planned to introduce legislation in the coming days to limit access to the type of gun Loughner legally purchased, a Glock .9-millimeter handgun.
Nine-one-one calls released from the scene describe that weapon.
CALLER: Looks like the guy had a semi-automatic pistol. He went in. He just started firing. And then he ran.
CALLER: She’s hit. I do believe she’s breathing. There’s multiple people shot.
911 OPERATOR: OK. Oh, my God.
TOM BEARDEN: There was beefed-up security at Giffords’ office today, and federal law enforcement officials are planning a security briefing for members of Congress on Wednesday.