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Who Would Do Something Like This?
It's close to two o'clock in the morning on Saturday, January 8, 2011. In Tucson, Arizona, twenty-two-year-old Jared Lee Loughner calls Bryce Tierney, a friend he has known since middle school. Bryce doesn't answer, so Jared leaves a message: "Hey, man, it's Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later."
At six a.m., Jared leaves his parents' home, driving his father's green 1969 Chevrolet Nova. He returns in an hour, but minutes later he heads out again. He may be in a hurry because he has something important to do today. Perhaps thoughts are rushing through his head. Perhaps he is distracted by voices only he hears. He is under stress.
Around 7:30 a.m., Alen Edward Forney, an officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, sees Jared run a red light. Lights flash and spin on Forney's patrol vehicle. Jared pulls over. His license and registration are up-to-date and legal. Officer Forney admonishes him for speeding: "It's bad for your health. You're gonna kill somebody. You're gonna kill yourself." Jared gets off with a warning. And he starts to cry.
"Are you okay?" Forney asks him.
"Yeah," Jared replies. "I'm okay, I've just had a rough time and I really thought I was gonna get a ticket and I'm really glad that you're not [going to give me one]."
Forney asks him again if he is okay.
"I'm fine. I'm just heading home," Jared answers. "It isn't too far, and I'll be okay."
By the time he returns to his parents' house at 8:30 a.m., he has visited two Walmart stores to buy ammunition for his 9-millimeter Glock semiautomatic handgun. He had legally purchased the pistol from a local gun shop 39 days ago. The sporting-goods associate in the first Walmart Jared visits is wary. The associate finds Jared rude and impatient. Without thoroughly checking the inventory, he tells Jared the store is out of 9-millimeter ammunition.
An associate at a second Walmart has no problem with Jared. Jared acts friendly as he asks if there is a limit on how many rounds of 9-millimeter cartridges he can buy. The sales associate checks Jared's ID and finds nothing wrong. He double-bags six or seven boxes of ammunition for Jared.
Around 8:30 a.m. at his parent's home, Jared removes a backpack from the trunk of the car before he enters the house. His mother and father are concerned about their son's behavior. They try to confront him. They want to know what's in the backpack. What's he going to do with it? Jared says nothing and flees, running down the street. His father drops his coffee and tries to catch up with him. But Jared is gone. His father goes back inside.
By around 9:20 a.m., Jared is in a convenience store. His final destination is too far to walk in the Sketchers shoes he's wearing today. He needs a ride to reach the site of a "Congress on Your Corner" event being held in the parking lot of the Safeway supermarket. He asks the clerk to call a cab company for him. Nervously waiting for his ride to arrive, Jared looks at the wall clock.
"9:25," he says, "I still got time."
He means he still has time to see United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the parking lot in front of the supermarket where she is hosting the meet-and-greet event for her constituents.
It's been three to four years since Loughner fixated on Giffords. During one of the Congresswoman's public appearances back then, he asked her a question. He was seriously, bitterly disappointed when he didn't get an answer. He felt insulted by her lack of response. He had asked her: "What is government if words have no meaning?"
Jared will see Giffords again soon. He gets into the cab and tells the driver to take him to the Safeway in Tucson. Like Jared's parents, the cab driver has no idea Jared is carrying his 9-millimeter Glock. He drops Jared off in the parking lot in front of the supermarket. It is the most important address on Jared's schedule today. For scores of people, it will be the most traumatic day of their lives. They have no idea Jared is coming, no hint of what he is about to do.
Jared joins the people who have gathered near Giffords. Among them are U.S. District Court Chief Judge John M. Roll, Giffords's aide Gabriel
M. Zimmerman, her constituents Dorothy J. Morris, Phyllis C. Schneck, and Dorwan C. Stoddard, and nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
It's close to 10:10 a.m. Jared has inserted peach-colored earplugs into his ears. Constituents write their names on a sign-up sheet offered by Giffords's intern, Daniel Hernandez. Hernandez offers the sheet to a man wearing a black beanie and a black hooded sweatshirt. It's Jared.
"Gun!" someone yells.
In an instant, Jared's pistol changes from a concealed weapon into a murder weapon.
He pulls the trigger of the sleek black pistol again and again. The semiautomatic handgun fires with each pull of the trigger—33 times.
Bullet after bullet after bullet slide up the long ammunition clip into the pistol's chamber and out the barrel. In twenty seconds, the gun is empty.
People scream. And run. Jared tries to reload. He has two more ammo clips stuffed into the left front pocket of his khaki pants. He's made sure he has plenty of bullets. Altogether, he has two long ammo clips and two short ones, plus a folded pocket knife.
Congresswoman Giffords lies on the ground with a bullet in her brain. Her intern reassures her and tries to keep her from slipping into unconsciousness. Her eyes closed, she mumbles. Her breathing becomes shallow, but she survives with brain damage. She faces a long rehabilitation.
Judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, Dorwan Stoddard, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Christina-Taylor Green do not survive. They are now mortally wounded or already dead. A dozen others, in addition to Giffords, are injured.
As Jared tries to reload, bystanders tackle and disarm him. They undoubtedly save many lives and prevent many injuries. Jared wants more victims, but the angry and brave bystanders hold him down until police arrive and arrest him.
Now wearing handcuffs, Jared is driven away in a police car, accompanied by two deputies.
"I just want you to know that I'm the only person that knew about this," Loughner tells the police after his arrest.
He leaves behind six dead, thirteen wounded, a bloody parking lot, and many questions. Most of the questions begin with "Why" or "How."
Before we look inside Jared's brain to try to answer some of these questions, it will be useful to contrast Jared's horrendous actions with those of a very different murderer, Eric Harris.
Jared and Eric are both young, white males who carry guns to crowded places to shoot people they know and people they don't. They both see their acts as nihilistic, but meaningful, while most people see them as deranged and pointless.
Although Jared acts alone and Eric has a weak, depressed, and impressionable accomplice, both Jared and Eric are the driving forces behind their murderous plans. They both leave behind dead and wounded victims, confusion, blood—and the same questions.
This Is Not Awesome
Eric Harris doesn't care that he is late for class today. He's more concerned about falling behind his own schedule on this Tuesday morning, April 20, 1999. He and his friend Dylan Klebold have plans for their fellow students and for the teachers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Today, just eleven days before Eric's eighteenth birthday, his day planner reads:
10:30 set up 4 things
11: go to school
11:10 set up duffel bags
11:12 wait near cars, gear up
Sometime after 10:30 a.m., he drives to a spot near the intersection of
Chatfield Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard, three miles southwest of the high school. He drops off a couple of backpacks stuffed with propane tanks, aerosol containers, and pipe bombs. When they go off, he figures, local police and rescue services will be distracted by the size and surprise of the explosions. They will rush to this intersection far from the school, slowing their response to the awesome end-of-the-high-school-world apocalypse he has planned for over a year.
At 11:10 a.m. Eric pulls his thirteen-year-old light gray Honda Civic into a parking space in the school's south parking lot. His fellow high school senior and co-conspirator, 17 ½-year-old Dylan, drives his black 1982 BMW into the west parking lot across from, but within sight of, Eric's parking spot.
Dylan has coordinated his agenda with Eric's. His "to do" list for this morning includes:
Walk in, set bombs at 11:09, for 11:17
Drive to Clemete Park. Gear up.
Get back by 11:15
Park cars. set car bombs for 11:18
get out, go to outside hill, wait.
When first bombs go off, attack.
Soon after Eric arrives, his off-and-on-again friend and fellow high school student Brooks Brown approaches him in the parking lot. Brooks excitedly tells Eric that he has missed a psychology test. Eric says it doesn't matter now.
"Brooks, I like you now. Get out of here. Go home," Eric tells him. Of the 1,945 registered students and approximately 140 teachers and administrative staff at the school, Brooks will be the only one to get a warning and a break like this today.
Eric and Dylan pull out duffel bags—one orange and one blue—from their cars and carry them into the cafeteria. Unnoticed, they set them on the floor near some tables in the crowded cafeteria before returning to their cars. The bags conceal homemade bombs amateurishly constructed with 20-pound propane tanks, flammable liquid, timers, and detonators. The homemade devices are set to explode at 11:17 a.m. But it is already 11:14 a.m. Eric and Dylan are leaving themselves dangerously little time to drop off the bombs and get out. They needn't worry.
They sit in their cars now, waiting for the explosions. They expect the twin blasts to bring part of the second floor crashing down into the cafeteria, killing hundreds. When the propane tanks explode, the blasts alone could directly kill many of the estimated 500 students in the dining area. When the survivors flee from the cafeteria, Eric and Dylan plan on gunning them down. This is the goal, and it makes sense only to them.
Fortunately, they are incompetent bomb makers. Neither knows how to wire these compound bombs or set their fuses properly. The duffel bags lie, unexploded and unnoticed, among hundreds of other backpacks and bags belonging to students filling the cafeteria.
With no explosion in the cafeteria, Eric and Dylan's master plan has begun to falter. They continue with the next stage of their attack by setting the timers on two additional bombs in their cars. The car bombs are timed to go off after the police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and journalists arrive. They are meant to boost the body count.
Just before 11:20 a.m., road crew workers toss aside the bags which Eric left as a diversion miles from the school. Some pipe bombs and an aerosol container explode. But like those now in the cafeteria and in their cars, these devices are poorly constructed; the propane tanks included to make the explosion really noticeable remain intact. Some grass catches fire. Appropriately, the local Littleton Fire Department and the Sheriff 's office are alerted, but there is no mass response by area police racing to the grass fire.
Now the two young men are on the move. They claim the campus's high ground. They stand atop the west stairs outside the school. They are armed with sawed-off shotguns, a 9-mm rifle, and a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun. This weapon is a civilian version of a military submachine gun. It is sometimes referred to as the cheap man's Uzi, a submachine gun once used by Israel's military.
Realizing their big bombs have fizzled, their supplementary shooting plan becomes their only option for creating mayhem. As journalist Dave Cullen writes in his excellent account of the attack, Columbine, for Eric and Dylan "There was no Plan B."
The two are wearing long black coats called dusters, which are often associated with cowboys and horseback riding. On this and subsequent days, the coats are frequently misidentified as trench coats. Both are good for hiding long-barreled rifles and shotguns. Trench coats, once associated with spies, private eyes, and investigative journalists, soon will become linked to murderous, socially outcast students who kill to avenge the ill treatment they receive from their peers. But as Cullen points out in his account of the massacre, and as forensic psychiatrists and psychologists later conclude after studying the writings and videotapes left behind by Eric, this motivation does not apply to, or explain, the actions of these two murderous friends, as we will discover.
"Go! Go!" one of the soon-to-be killers shouts. It is probably Eric, the dominant member of the lethal team.
Eric and Dylan pull out their shotguns and 9-mm weapons and begin by firing at students who are seated on the grass, eating lunch. They wound Richard Castaldo and shoot Rachel Scott in the head and chest, killing her.
Three more students are moving up the stairs toward them. Eric fires his carbine again and again, killing Danny Rohrbough instantly and wounding Lance Kirkland in four places from his chest down to his foot. Sean Graves runs but falls wounded before he can get away from the shooters.
From time to time throughout the massacre, the attackers pause to light pipe bombs, the most reliable of their homemade explosives. Now they are throwing them high onto the roof and down onto the lawn. Later they will throw them, to their amusement, throughout the school.
More students run across the grass, trying to get away. One, Mark Taylor, falls seriously wounded. Although shot, Michael Johnson manages to reach a storage shed and joins several others already using it for cover.
The gunmen are moving again. One reaches Lance, who lies wounded on the ground. Lance, weak and disoriented from his wounds, grabs a pant leg of the figure standing over him and asks for help.
"Sure, I'll help," the owner of the pant leg says, and shoots Lance in the face. Lance, despite multiple wounds, survives.
Eric, the leader and by far the more murderous of the two killers, climbs the stairs. He laughs. From his elevated vantage point, he sees Anne Marie Hochhalter running. He fires. She falls, shot multiple times.
It's been less than five minutes since the carnage began.
"This is what we always wanted to do. This is awesome!" one of the killers yells.
Seeing hall monitor Patti Nielson and student Brian Anderson inside the school behind a westward-facing exit, one of the shooters fires. The bullets drive metal and glass shrapnel into Patti's arm, shoulder and knee, and into Brian's chest.
Eric looks toward the south parking lot. He easily spots Sheriff 's Deputy Neil Gardner. The deputy is wearing a hard-to-miss bright yellow School Community Service Officer's shirt. Deputy Gardner is getting out of his patrol car about 180 feet away. Eric shoots at him repeatedly. Bullets fly into parked cars behind Deputy Gardner. None of the ten or so shots he manages to get off hits the deputy. Then Eric's rifle jams.
As Eric tries to clear his weapon, Gardner fires four shots at him, but misses. Eric clears his jammed weapon. He fires and misses the deputy again before he retreats into the school through the shattered west doors.
It's now around 11:26 a.m. From inside the entrance, Eric exchanges more fire with Gardner and another deputy, who has joined the shootout. The gunmen disappear into the school. The deputies, following orders, do not go after the gunmen.
Together, Eric and Dylan walk back and forth along the library hallway, throwing pipe bombs, shooting at nothing in particular, and laughing.
A couple of minutes later, they enter the library where 56 classmates hide or cower. Immediately, Eric points his shotgun at the top of the front counter and pulls the trigger. Wood splinters fly into the air and into a student crouched behind a copying machine at the end of the counter. As they move across the room toward the library windows, the coldblooded pair nonchalantly shoot and kill another student. Windows shatter as they fire outside at students fleeing the killing field Eric and Dylan have created out of the once-familiar campus. Police and deputies fire back through the windows at the killers.
Excerpted from Murderous Minds by Dean A. Haycock. Copyright © 2014 Dean A. Haycock, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of PEGASUS BOOKS.
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Posted July 2, 2014
This book is a pageturner, which I didn't expect in a book about psychopathy. It is well written.
Haycock explains difficult concepts so even I could understand it, yet he doesn't dumb down.
Posted April 8, 2014