The suspect in Saturday’s shooting rampage in which a U.S. congresswoman was critically wounded was unstable and had been known to make death threats in the past, the local sheriff said.
The FBI is investigating whether the man is the same person who posted a rambling Internet manifesto accusing the government of mind control and demanding a new currency.
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, of Tucson, was taken into custody moments after the shooting at a political meeting held by Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a supermarket parking lot. Six people died and Giffords had a critical head wound.
Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, where the shooting happened, told reporters the suspect had a troubled past. “All I can tell you is that this person may have a mental issue,” Dupnik said.
Dupnik said there had been earlier contact between Loughner and law enforcement after he had made death threats, although they had not been against Giffords. He said the authorities believe he may not have been working alone.
In a series of YouTube videos, a person identifying himself as Jared Lee Loughner complains about government mind control, treasonous laws, illiterate dreamers and the U.S. currency.
“The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar,” the person wrote in one of the videos, which contain music and white text on a black background.
“No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver. No, I won’t trust in God.”
The postings describe no coherent political ideology, said Mark Potok, an investigator with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks violent extremists. Loughner was not in the Center’s database of hate groups and radicals.
“He certainly sounds like he’s gone off the deep end, but at the same time, he is mouthing some rhetoric that is quite reminiscent of the anti-government movement … It’s hard to know what to make of his ideology.”
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