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Jared Lee Loughner: what is known about Tucson, Arizona, shooting suspect

Jared Lee Loughner is refusing to tell investigators anything about a motive for the Tucson, Arizona, shooting, but he appears to be a familiar character in American life: a disturbed outsider with a gun.

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In 2010, Loughner’s behavior at community college began to attract the attention of the school’s authorities. Between February and September of last year he had five contacts with police for classroom or library disruptions, according to a statement from the school. Classmates described him as someone who would make inappropriate responses during class and behave in a generally odd manner, according to wire service reports.

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Loughner was suspended from school in September after authorities discovered a YouTube video in which he apparently described the school as illegal according to the US Constitution.

At first glance Loughner’s philosophy appears to be not so much a coherent view of looking at the world as the random thoughts of a disturbed person. His online postings and videos are full of non sequiturs and rants about the debasement of US currency and government control of language and grammar.

“His writings will be virtually impossible for most people to understand, what with his references to unexplained numbers, his fondness for weird syllogisms, his unexplained references and his apparent semi-literacy,” writes Mark Potok, a hate group analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, on his blog.

But Mr. Potok notes that government debasement of the currency is a tenet of antigovernment “Patriot” movement extremist groups, and that Patriot conspiracy theorist David Wynn Miller has long held that the government uses grammar to enslave Americans, and that if an individual adds colons and hyphens to their name in a certain way, they are no longer required to pay taxes.

Miller’s ideas may seem loony “but he has a real following on the right,” writes Potok.

On Nov. 30 last year, Loughner bought a Glock semi-automatic pistol at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson. The purchase was entirely legal, according to Pima County Sheriff Dupnik. The gun retailer would have had no knowledge of any of Loughner’s past troubles unless he had been “declared mentally incompetent officially by the courts,” said Dupnik in an MSNBC appearance Monday.

Loughner reportedly tried to buy ammunition at a WalMart but failed because a clerk was put off by his odd behavior. He subsequently was able to purchase the ammunition at another WalMart, according to CNN.

The Glock was the weapon used to open fire on Giffords and the crowd waiting to meet with her on Saturday, according to the FBI. The six killed included US District Court Judge John Roll and a nine-year old girl, Christina Taylor Green, who was born Sept. 11, 2001.

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