What can we learn? Clues to the Active Shooter

NEW BRAINTREE, MA March 27, 2013  What can be learned from the survivors of mass shootings? Is it worth anything to the larger body of knowledge moving forward?  The most surprising thing that has been released since 6 people were killed and 12 were injured in Tuscon, AZ is that the shooter gave off clues that something was going to happen.  He visited friends revealing to them his newly purchased firearm. Exposing some underlying drive state or growing urgency toward aggression.  What was Jared Lee Loughner trying to say by showing the weapon to friends?  Was he exposing his intentions – ultimately expecting to be stopped? 

The first published remarks by Loughner’s parents revealed growing frustration with his emotional detatchment from them in the months before the shooting. In a Washington Post publication Randy Loughner is quoted as saying that “he (Jared) wouldn’t talk or communicate with him” and became increasingly erratic. His mother reported that they has asked for a mental health evaluation but this never took place. Loughner was said to have elaborate conversations with himself and had the habit of making unusual noises. These behaviors are often associated with psychotic thinking but Loughner’s mother worried about methamphetamine abuse that can also result in erratic, aggressive behavior. Drug testing did not reveal any drugs in his system. Loughner’s emotional break down was observed by several close friends in addition to his parents. After his trial, and ultimate guilty plea, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and is now serving 100 + years for the killing in 2011.

It is all to often that red flags for violence are not fully appreciated by people close to the final brutality. Yet there are facts that can be identified and appreciated if one takes the time to analyze the prodromal behavior. A friend close to Loughner became shocked by the fact he was carrying a gun and had shaved his head. The underpinnings of violence were present before the crime. These were represented by the marginalized demeanor and extremist views that he documented in written musings that have come to light.