Parents of Jared Loughner Say They 'Don't Understand' What Prompted Rampage

Family writes they wish they could change 'heinous events.'

January 10, 2011, 11:53 PM

TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 11, 2011 -- The devastated parents of accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner released a statement today saying they "don't understand" what prompted their son to allegedly go on a "heinous" shooting rampage that killed six and injured 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

It was the first word from Loughner's family since the carnage on Saturday.

"This is a very difficult time for us. We ask the media to respect our privacy. There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were so we could make you feel better. We don't understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss."

The message was signed, "The Loughner Family," and was handed out by two members of the public defenders' office.

The Loughner's note of confusion and contrition contrasted with a hateful scribble that was found in Jared Loughner's safe that said simply, "Die bitch," a sheriff's official told The Associated Press. Other notes in the safe included "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and the name "Giffords."

Loughner's parents, Randy and Amy Loughner, are reportedly coping with their son's alleged rampage much as they've spent their recent family life: alone and in private. They have sealed themselves in their suburban Tucson home since Saturday's shooting, blocking access to the front door with a piece of wood to presumably keep people off their property.

Activity at the Loughner home was scarce besides an unidentified young man who placed a black rose with a card addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Loughner" on the hood of a black sedan parked in the family's driveway.

The parents are devastated and guilt-ridden, neighbor Wayne Smith, 70, told KPHO-TV. Jared Loughner's mother has been in bed, crying nonstop since the shooting rampage on Saturday, he said.

"I told them they didn't fail. They taught him everything about right and wrong," Smith said, according to the AP. "We all know you can teach someone everything and have no control how it works out."

The couple did not attend their son's arraignment in federal court in Phoenix Monday, and one neighbor who's been in contact with them, but asked not to be identified, said they are distraught and grieving.

While this is the first statement from Loughner's family, others who knew the 22-year-old before the attack have spoken out. One one former close friend of Loughner's said he went from a stable high school student to a violent, self-medicated "monster" after his girlfriend dumped him during his junior year of high school.

Jared Loughner Was Alleged to Have Used Drugs

Zachary Osler said that Loughner, who would walk around with his jaw and fist clenched, spent "excessive amounts of money" on drugs.

Osler said Loughner consumed marijuana, cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms and the hallucigenic salvia.

"There was no political motive in this, [Jared] was just angry at the world," he said.

Loughner ended his friendship with Osler through a text message two years ago, writing to him, "I don't want to be friends with you anymore."

Osler also said that Loughner's favorite quote was, "Out of chaos breathes creation."

For more of the exclusive interview about Loughner's friendship with Zachary Olser, watch ABC's "Good Morning America" tomorrow.

Osler, who spent a lot of time at the Loughner's home during high school, described the family's home as "cold, dark and unpleasant" and added that he always felt "unwelcomed."

Littered with musical instruments and a computer in the middle of the room, Osler said he never observed a particularly loving relationship between the Loughners. Loughner once told Osler that he loved his pet dog Hannah more than his parents.

"They did very few family activities together besides going to car races and one family vacation to the beach, and they never decorated their house for the holidays," recalled Osler. "Jared's parents were religious but Jared proclaimed himself as an atheist."

Meanwhile, in the search for clues to understanding why Jared Loughner allegedly plotted an attack on Giffords' constituent event Saturday, his relationships with his parents and home environment are of increasing interest.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Monday that he couldn't comment specifically on Loughner's upbringing or mental health, but he noted that his was a "somewhat dysfunctional family."

Other neighbors painted a picture of a single-child home that was intensely private and increasingly insular and standoffish as Jared Loughner grew older.

PHOTOS: Jared Lee Loughner

George Gayam, who has lived next door to Randy Loughner for 30 years on North Soledad St., described their early relationship as amicable and engaging, like "average neighbors."

Randy married Amy Totman in 1986 and two years later they had their first and only son, Jared. He then became a stay at home dad, while Amy worked for Pima County, neighbors said.

Gayam, 82, recalled how his grandchildren interacted with the Loughners as they were growing up, playing with Jared in the yard and later sharing a passion for cars with Randy.

"When I was probably 16 or 17, I had a Mustang. Randy had his hot rod. We'd talk shop. He'd help me out. I'd help him out, and everything was great," said Gayam's grandson Rick Dahlstrom.

Jared Loughner's Isolated Family

But around 15 years ago the dynamic abruptly changed, Dahlstrom said.

"There was times when we'd be out with other neighbor kids, and Jared wouldn't be allowed out. He'd be watching from the window or door," he said. "They all became very isolated. Randy was isolated, Amy wasn't out anymore. Something changed. They just kept to themselves."

"We used to talk, you know, though not a lot," said Gayam. "But recently there was always some choice words said at times or gestures when someone was driving by. There's no real rhyme or reason as to why."

Neighbors said the Loughners' behavior perplexed them and made them uncomfortable.

"Contempt breeds contempt," said a female neighbor who asked to remain anonymous because she scared of Randy. "The family was contemptuous. It wasn't the son. It was the father."

But Smith, who also lives on the block and is reported to be the only neighbor in contact with the Loughners since the shooting, suggested earlier this week that the family's isolation was rooted in a sense of personal privacy.

"They don't really interact with the neighborhood because they're very private people," he said.

ABC News' Desiree Adib contributed to this report.