Those fanatical eyes. That twisted face. The Joker smile. The bald head. I avert my eyes every time I see photos of Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old being held in connection with the shooting deaths of six innocent people, and the wounding of 13 others. Among them, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the main target of his bloody rampage that warm Saturday morning in the parking lot of a suburban Tucson Safeway. The supermarket, whose name I always found comforting, was anything but safe from a disturbed young man with a grudge.
Everything that could be said has been said about the Tucson massacre. Over the past week the incident has been dissected, analyzed, denounced and memorialized from every point of view: the victims, the heroes, the medical skill, the senseless violence, the easy access to guns and the suspect, a frightening specter of a human being. When the funerals end, and the wounded are released from the hospital to continue their recuperation and when Congresswoman Giffords, I pray, returns somewhat to her former self in mobility and intellect, Loughner will receive the subject of most public attention. Is that what he wanted all along?
We know every one is innocent in America until proven guilty, but isn’t it a little silly to call Loughner “the alleged murderer” when in the midst of his killing spree he was tackled and held to the ground by courageous older citizens who were determined that this guy would not get away. Before Loughner could reload his gun, a woman in her 70’s snatched the magazine of bullets. He did it, okay.
But why does his mug shot give me nightmares? He must have practiced his fearful look. It was recently revealed by authorities that he did video blogs and took photos of himself. He dropped off a roll of film at the Walgreen’s next to the Safeway the day before his bloody rampage. Walgreen’s notified law enforcement officials about the photos developed. Oh, this so creepy. There was a picture of him naked, except for a red G-string, holding his 9 mm glock handgun across his groin area. There’s been no word yet on what other images were developed from the film. I cringe at the thought.
If you watch the contributors on cable news, Loughner is dismissed as “crazy,” a “lunatic,” a “wacko.” The psychologists have more sophisticated language for him. They say he is mentally ill, the victim of a nervous breakdown, a paranoid schizophrenic, a psychopath, a sociopath.
I think of another mass murderer, Timothy McVeigh convicted of parking a truck loaded with explosives and detonating it in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. I don’t remember people calling him crazy. He was an Iraqi War veteran who hated the U.S. government. He had a goal and a plan and he achieved them with detailed precision. And so did Jared Loughner.
So why are people so quick to call him a crazy. Because he looks like one? He sure looks like one, but is he “crazy” like a fox? I hope we find out, but until we do, I don’t want to look at his photos. They give me nightmares.