US gunman 'fixated' on congresswoman
Tucson - The young man charged with the shooting of a congresswoman that stunned the United States posted essays that were barely coherent but focused ruthlessly on his goal of meeting her, officials said on Sunday.
As Americans asked if 22-year-old Jared Loughner had a political motive for Saturday's bloodbath, early accounts from officials and acquaintances depicted a troubled and lonely man who may have suffered from mental problems.
A picture in the yearbook of his high school in Tucson, Arizona showed a shaggy-haired boy allowing a small smile. Classmates recounted a steady downward spiral until last year he was kicked out of a community college.
"I think he slowly descended in a psychotic break. Something in him snapped. He wasn't always like this," Caitie Parker, who went to high school with Loughner, wrote on the micro-blogging service Twitter.
Parker remembered Loughner agreeing with left-wing views and enjoying the punk band Anti-Flag. But she said he knew him several years ago and recalled that he had become fond of discussing prophecies about 2012, when according to some interpretations of Mayan prophecy the world will end.
Loughner's postings on the internet reveal a fascination with hardline ideology as he listed Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's The Communist Manifesto and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf among his favourite books.
In one item on the video-swapping site YouTube, a hooded Loughner sets fire to a US flag in the desert to the sounds of heavy metal band Drowning Pool and its lyrics, "Nothing wrong with me/Something's got to give/Let the bodies hit the floor."
His statements often took the form of logic exercises, posing an idea and then offering a conclusion. He frequently spoke of creating a new currency.
"You're not distributing your new currency lethally to people. Thus, you're distributing your new currency non-lethally to people," he wrote on YouTube.
In another posting, he wrote: "The majority of people who reside in District 8 are illiterate - hilarious. I don't control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure."
He said that his favourite activity is "conscience dreaming" and declared: "My ambition is for informing conscience dreamers about a new currency. In a few days, you know I'm conscience dreaming!"
Prosecutors said Loughner, armed with a Glock automatic pistol, shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head on Saturday as she met constituents at a routine meet-and-greet at a suburban supermarket. Six others died, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge.
It was not the first time he sought out Giffords, a centrist lawmaker from President Barack Obama's Democratic Party.
Investigators searched Loughner's modest family home in the desert city and found a letter from Giffords dating from August 2007 thanking him for attending a public meeting similar to Saturday's one, according to the charge sheet.
Found in a safe along with the letter was an envelope marked "I planned ahead", "My assassination" and "Giffords" written by hand, as well as what appeared to be Loughner's signature, the affidavit said.
In a later interview with Fox News, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik quoted from another letter Loughner wrote in which "he indicated that he was going to kill that 'bleeping' lady".
Asked if it was clear that Giffords was the intended target, Dupnik replied: "There is no doubt about it. There is no doubt in our mind this was an act of a single, very troubled individual."
Prosecutors said that Loughner bought his gun from a local store in November. Two months earlier, Pima Community College had suspended him, seeking assurances that he did not pose a threat to fellow students.
Student Lynda Sorenson, in an e-mail reprinted by The Washington Post, warned presciently that Loughner could be "one of those whose picture you see on the news after he has come into class with an automatic weapon".
She said that she sat close to the door when he entered as Loughner "scares the living crap out of me".