Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 01/ 9/2011

Neighbors: Jared Loughner and family quiet, kept to themselves

By Amy Gardner

Accused gunman Jared Loughner grew up in a modest neighborhood of one-storey ranches and split-level homes in northwest Tucson.

Neighbors and former classmates from nearby Mountain View High School described Loughner and his parents as loners who rarely spoke even to their immediate neighbors.
 
"You try to say something, they'd just ignore you and turn around and walk back into the house," said Ron Johnson, 60, a retiree who lives directly opposite the Loughner's tan, one-storey home. "The kid - I never talked to him. He acted just like his parents and ignored you."
 

Sunday morning, North Soledad Avenue was clear of the investigators and police lights that had dominated the day before. There was no sign of life at the Loughner home, where, for much of Saturday, the suspect's parents had stood out front fielding law enforcement inquiries, several neighbors said. Instead, camera crews and newspaper reporters made the rounds of neighbors to find out what they could about Loughner and his family.

Isaiah Martinez, 23, who lives with his parents across from the Loughners, graduated from high school a year ahead of the suspect and remembers a quiet boy who wore mostly black clothing, favored metal music and had one or two friends. Martinez, a student at the nearby University of Arizona, most recently saw Loughner walking through the neighborhood Friday night wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and listening to his mp3 player.

Martinez's sister, Michelle, 22 graduated the same year as Loughner. She remembers riding the bus with him and occasionally talking about homework assignments. Although she remembers him as a quiet student, nothing about his behavior stuck out in her memory and she could not recall any disruptive incidents such as those that led to his later removal from Pima Community College.

Michelle Martinez also recalled that the suspect dated at least one girl in high school.

"He was just a normal kid who doodled and wrote things on his notebooks," she said. "He was just a little weird, he kept to himself."

Stephen Woods 46, and his son Anthony, 19, live next door to the Loughners and said they saw the parents or the son walking their dog, but rarely spoke to them. Stephen Woods said he clashed with the suspect's father after leaving some trash at the curb that did not get picked up. He said he doesn't know what the parents do for a living, and the most he sees of the family is early each morning when the father waters his garden.

Like other neighbors, Anthony Woods said both the suspect and his father would ignore him when he said hello or waved, so eventually he stopped bothering. Of the suspect, Woods said: "One or two friends would come over occasionally and leave together."

Two old Chevys - a pickup and a Nova - sit in the driveway of the Loughner's tan single-storey house, where the backyard fence is aged and peeling and the front porch is littered with empty buckets of roofing tar.

The elder Loughner was known to tinker with the vehicles in the driveway.

Neighbors said they were shocked to learn that the accused gunman had grown up in their midst, but they said the area has never been immune to crime. Break-ins and car thefts are not uncommon, and a drug house was recently closed down around the corner, several said.

By Amy Gardner  | January 9, 2011; 12:58 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jared Loughner unable to enlist in Army because of drug use
Next: Tucson shooting, economy, health care top Sunday shows

Comments

Please.....give these parents a little compassion! No one knows what they are feeling. Pray for them. We all have our issues, we are all humans. Give them some sympathy, as well as the victims. They are hurting so bad also. How would we feel if our child were responsible?

Posted by: jbusinelle | January 11, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

@sskeptical Yes, Arizona does have a vast mental health program and it is so vast that I'm certain numerous people fall through the cracks. Can the mental health workers watch every insane person 24/7? How much can be done when someone has never done anything illegal before?

Posted by: cmj53 | January 10, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

If you don't live in Tucson, you may not understand that it is nothing strange not to talk to your neighbors here! Originally from the Midwest and South where people are neighborly, I have lived in Tucson for 11 years. People here are generally, as a rule, very unfriendly! Most of our neighbors never talk to us, and most of them wouldn't even understand what we are saying to them. 1/2 of the general population speaks Spanish only (in my neighborhood it is about 80%). I'm not saying this guys parents aren't unfriendly or strange, but come live in Tucson for a year--sad to say, but almost everyone is like this! Most of my friends and acquaintances do not even know their neighbors first names. That part of this article is simply irrelevant. And if your kid did this, and the media was barging into your yard, mightn't you try to barricade them out?!

Posted by: cmj53 | January 10, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Seven possible reasons parents won't talk to their neighbors.
1) They're hoarders, and their is a mess, and they are afraid that if their neighbors become acquainted with them, they may someday find out.
2) They are spys.
3) Their neighbors are (some ethnic group), and they hate all members of this group.
4) They are members of some weird religious sect, and their neighbors may pollute their minds.
5) They are involved in some illegal activity, and think it best to stay away from neighbors.
6) The husband doesn't want his wive to be lured away by another man, and is very controlling.
7) They are crazy, and believe neighbors are out to get them.

Posted by: ji_bardell | January 10, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I have something very important to point out. Is there a chance that this family was under a witness protection plan or living there in isolation because they are affiliated with an agency with the government?

I say this because it's odd for people to be so removed from a neighborhood that is middle or lower middle class. Especially if they have kids, unless they are trying to hide something.

Additionally, the accused shooters hatred for government and the absolute silence of anything having to do with his family and family background are telling. I think this needs further research.

Anyone agree?

I'm willing to bet there is more to this story and his family's background than is being discussed. And when someone does what this accused does, the public should know every thing we can about them legally..to better understand the signs that lead to this type of behavior.

Posted by: rex5 | January 10, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I have something very important to point out. Is there a chance that this family was under a witness protection plan or living there in isolation because they are affiliated with an agency with the government?

I say this because it's odd for people to be so removed from a neighborhood that is middle or lower middle class. Especially if they have kids, unless they are trying to hide something.

Additionally, the accused shooters hatred for government and the absolute silence of anything having to do with his family and family background are telling. I think this needs further research.

Anyone agree?

I'm willing to bet there is more to this story and his family's background than is being discussed. And when someone does what this accused does, the public should know every thing we can about them legally..to better understand the signs that lead to this type of behavior.

Posted by: rex5 | January 10, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The stigma which is continuing to prevent people with mental illness...

You call it a "stigma." Why? How dear is that term to you. I recall it being very dear in other situations, sexual assault was one. Women here refuted that association, it was not dear to them.

Yours is not dear to me.


Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor
khmaio@earthlink.net

Posted by: khmaio | January 10, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

serenf -
my comments come from many of the other stories I read, watching his youtube videos and comments from fellow students at the community college.

Again it was a question I asked about his family, not the public.

If he wasn't motivated by only political reasons, as many have though, he was definitely battling with something that made him want to engage in abhorrent behavior and focus on the congresswoman.

Just like John Hinckley and others who obsess about public figures

Posted by: jporcelli | January 10, 2011 7:28 AM | Report abuse

serenf -
my comments come from many of the other stories I read, watching his youtube videos and comments from fellow students at the community college.

Again it was a question I asked about his family, not the public.

If he wasn't motivated by only political reasons, as many have though, he was definitely battling with something that made him want to engage in abhorrent behavior and focus on the congresswoman.

Posted by: jporcelli | January 10, 2011 7:26 AM | Report abuse

To marilyndiann (and jporcelli)
What warning signs? This is a perfect example of media stressing behaviors and situations to imply there is something there that perhaps is not, for the purpose of selling stories. And also a perfect example of readers eating it up.
The family was anti-social; the son kept to himself. There were cars and empty containers in the yard. So what? Millions of people are loners and millions of people have cars and the remnants of home maintenance in their yard.
Now I would agree that their behavior indicates some dysfunction going on in the family (which also would answer the question about why the family didn't try to help their son – they helped create the problem).
I grew up in a dysfunctional household, was quite anti-social in my younger years, and preferred to keep to myself. Does that mean someone should lock me up, because, oh no, I might do something bad? Of course not. Most loners don't ever harm anyone.
In fact, if you look at the statistics, the percentage of people who commit crimes and have mental illness is the same as the percentage of people who commit crimes and do not.
Perhaps you are biased because of your own mentally ill family member and perhaps he is capable of being a threat, but it is sad that you don't recognize that this is not the norm and that you are helping to perpetuate the stigma. The stigma which is continuing to prevent people with mental illness, in other words, an organ disease, to get the help and coverage that they deserve as much as anyone with any organ disease.
And shame on those responsible for including such irrelevancies and/or dramatizing them in this article.

Posted by: serenf | January 9, 2011 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Its sad that there were warning signs, people saw disturbing behavior, but didn't know what to do about it. There needs to be education of the public about mental illness. When there are clear signs of mental illness, disordered thinking, and talking that doesnt make sense, when there is anger and disruptions, inability of a person to get along with those around them, these are warning signs of impending mental health crisis. People ask why did he do it? I would say there is NO making sense of a brain that is not working correctly! If the parents were also mentally Ill then they most likely didn't have the judgement to recognize the warning signs.
If a someone has a concern that a person is acting unstable, their words don't make sense, it's best to call the police and notify them that you feel this person may be a threat to others. I also believe that there should be mental health screening for those wanting to own a weapon! I know the constitution ensures that we are able have weapons but they don't have to be automatic weapons that fire off many rounds in a matter of seconds. In my experience with an adult son with schizophrenia, I watch for warning signs of angry rhetoric, or delusional thinking. I immediately call the police if he shows any signs of instability. The police make sure he gets evaluated by a mental health professional. I also make sure that he doesn't buy any weapons or have access to any weapon as you cannot for sure know what is going on inside their head.

Posted by: marilyndiann | January 9, 2011 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if he had insurance. Many states have mental health public progrms. However, I presume that in Arizona that there isn't anything. What can you say about state that refuses to help those that are dying and in need of a transplant and who aren't insured. Thank God they are so far just adults - maybe if it were children it would still be tough noogies..but with at least a few tears of empathy.

The death panels apparently are in Arizona. BTW Mental health must be covered in all insurance plans (the law changed years ago) but if you don't have insurance you are SOL. If you don't have parents who care about your mental health you are doubly screwed.

Posted by: sskepticall | January 9, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that it appears that this young man grew up in a very dysfunctional household and that there may be a full family history of mental instability.

If that is the case then it is parental neglect by the parents to not address the fact that he is unstable and probably crashing and burning his whole life.

You can only imagine the attempts of the schools in trying to get these parents to deal with his issues.

Let's face facts...there are kids who don't have a chance in this world. No one purposely goes crazy as a kid and a parents responsiblity is to get them some help when they show the signs of mental troubles.

I call them throw away kids. I live in one of the wealthiest commmunities in this country and we have a bunch of them here. Parent's lost in their own problems and sustance abuse, or they are too busy to really pay attention to their kids who then get lost in sustance abuse too. Parents not coming home and arguing with their kids who only want their parents to pay attention to them. They want normalcy and boundaries and to not feel worthless.

I know that he is likely very troubled and mentally ill...but from what I have read..he has been spiraling down for a very long time and no one cared. Not anybody. And because of that - he shot and killed and wounded almost 20 people. I am not excusing his actions, but someone could have stopped this when they saw that he was terribly disturbed. But it appears so are his parents. What chance did he have.

Good Bless the victims of this horrible crime..the question is when did it all start.

This is all too reminiscent of the failures at Virginia Tech and that shooters family.

Posted by: sskepticall | January 9, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to find out if his family knew of his mental instability and if they had health insurance to help him.

Posted by: jporcelli | January 9, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to find out if his family knew of his mental instability and if they had health insurance to help him.

Posted by: jporcelli | January 9, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to find out if his family knew of his mental instability and if they had health insurance to help him.

Posted by: jporcelli | January 9, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

spell check "one-storey"

Posted by: rosepetals64 | January 9, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company