Suspect Pulled over Hours before Killing Spree; Arizona Wildlife Officer Checked Loughner's Papers, Found No Probable Cause to Hold Him

Article excerpt


Only a few hours before a shooting rampage that killed six people and gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, a state wildlife officer pulled over the suspected killer after he apparently ran a red light, authorities said Wednesday.

The officer from the Arizona Game and Fish Department gave Jared Lee and here Loughner, 22, a warning after a check of his driver's license and vehicle registration found no outstanding warrants.

He had a valid license; the car was registered; he had insurance, Games and Parks spokesman Jim Paxon said. He was warned and released because we had no probable cause to hold or do an extensive search.

Mr. Paxon said wildlife officers usually do not make traffic stops unless public safety is at risk, such as running a red light.

Before the 7:30 a.m. stop, authorities said Mr. Loughner, who is in jail and faces federal charges that could bring the death penalty, argued with his father, Randy. Police said the young man ran from his family's Tucson home into the desert to escape his angry father, who chased him after seeing him remove a black bag from the trunk of a family car. Investigators are still searching for the bag.

At 10 a.m., police said, Mr. Loughner took a cab to a Tucson supermarket where Mrs. Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet event. Authorities said Mr. Loughner, a loner who displayed paranoid and frequently anti-government views in numerous Internet postings, targeted the congresswoman before firing indiscriminately into the crowd, stopping only when bystanders subdued him.

Those killed were U.S. District Chief Judge John M. Roll; Gabriel Zimmerman, a 30-year-old aide of Mrs. Giffords; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Phyllis Scheck, 79, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who went to the event because of a budding interest in politics. The shooting was captured on a supermarket security camera, police said.

The 13 others wounded along with Mrs. Giffords, a three-term centrist lawmaker, are expected to survive.

Despite being shot in the head at close range, Mrs. Giffords is expected to survive. Doctors said Wednesday that her condition has remained critical, but stable and that she has not suffered brain swelling, which was their greatest concern.

She was able to actually even feel her wounds herself, said Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of the medical center's Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Surgery at Tucson's University Medical Center. Dr. Rhee said she also had pulled at her gown, but declined to further elaborate about her latest progress. …