Tucson Shooting: Jared Loughner Stopped for Traffic Violation Hours Before Shooting

Zach Osler says Jared Loughner wasn't on the left or the right.

ByABC News
January 12, 2011, 7:44 AM

Jan. 12, 2011 — -- Accused Tucson gunman Jared Loughner had several encounters with Arizona police before Saturday's shooting, including getting arrested when he was 17 for drinking so much vodka that his school sent him to a hospital emergency room.

"[Loughner] advised that he drank the alcohol because he was very upset as his father yelled at him," according to the May 2006 Pima County Sheriff's office police report obtained by ABC News. "I could see his eyes were very red and he was crying...I was advised that he had stolen the alcohol from his father's liquor cabinet."

School officials told authorities that they'd sent Loughner to the hospital because he was "so extremely intoxicated." Nurses later estimated that Loughner had consumed approximately 250 milliliters of vodka. He was charged with charged as a minor with possession of alcohol.

Pima County Sheriff's officers had contact with Loughner or his family at least 10 times in the past several years for incidents that included reports of vandalism of the family's property, possession of drug paraphernalia charges, and an altercation Loughner had with a classmate who pricked him with a needle. Loughner was 15 at the time of the needle incident and he declined to press charges, according to the report.

In the other incidents, the Loughner family called authorities because they claimed to have been victims of crimes ranging from vandalism to identity theft.

Earlier today it was revealed that Loughner had an altercation with his father on Saturday, just hours before he allegedly opened fire in a grocery story parking lot where six people died and 14 were wounded.

Loughner's father saw him take a black bag out of a car trunk. When the father approached, his mumbling son took off running and the father chased him in his car, investigators said. Police haven't said what was in the bag, but they continue to search for it.

Also that morning, Loughner was stopped by police after running a red light.

When the officer determined that there were no outstanding warrants for Loughner, he was allowed to proceed to his destination with a warning to drive carefully.

Loughner was stopped at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Saturday by an Arizona Game and Fish Department officer, according to a statement released by the department.

"They do not routinely make traffic stops, except when public safety is at risk, such as running a red light," read the statement. "The officer took Mr. Loughner's driver's license and vehicle registration information and ran it through dispatch. The check came back with no wants nor any outstanding warrants on either the subject or his vehicle."

Later that morning, at 10:11 a.m., Loughner allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head and sprayed the crowd around her with rounds from a 9mm Glock handgun.

Investigators tell ABC News they are reviewing these past interactions Loughner had with police to determine whether the massacre could have been prevented.

Immediately after the assault on Giffords and 19 others who attended her sidewalk meeting, Dupnik said that Loughner had never been on his department's radar.

He did say, however, "There have been law enforcement contacts with individuals where he made threats...to kill."

Loughner was booked by police once in 2007 for possession of drug paraphernalia and was cited in 2008 for graffiti, according to public records and media reports.

Loughner, 22, was also suspended from Pima Community College in October 2010 after he violated the school's conduct code by taping a YouTube video on campus that accused the school of being "unconstitutional." Loughner ended up withdrawing from the school.

According to Loughner's college records, on Sept. 29, an officer who delivered the suspension letter to Loughner's home where he was met by Loughner and his father, Randy. The report says Loughner "held a constant trance of staring as I narrated the past events that had transpired," and kept that stony silence for an hour until he finally said, "I realize now that this is all a scam."

In May 2010 a teacher reported Loughner became "very hostile" when he learned he was received a "B" in his Pilates class. The teacher told campus police that Loughner "threw his work down" and said the grade was "unacceptable."

The teacher also told authorities that she worried that a conversation with Loughner after class might "become physical."

And in September 2010, two campus cops took Loughner to see a counselor, after which a report was written to say that "there might be a mental health concern involved with Loughner."

Classes that Loughner took between 2005 and 2010, when he withdrew from school, included "Tai Chi for Beginners," "Country Swing in a Nutshell," "Yoga," "Meditation" and a course listed as "Making Career Choices."

He was also enrolled in several more traditional courses such as "Introduction to Sociology," and the "Natural History of the Southwest."

A high school friend of the accused gunman dismissed speculation that Loughner's alleged rampage was sparked by political passion.

"He did not watch TV, he disliked the news," Zach Osler said. "He didn't listen to political radio, he didn't take sides, he wasn't on the left, he wasn't on the right."

Osler said that Loughner was angry at the world.

"He wasn't shooting people, he was shooting at the world," the friend said.