The Mindset of Jared Lee Loughner

  • January 10, 2011


Read ADL's comprehensive report, The Mindset of Jared Lee Loughner (PDF)

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Tucson on January 8 that killed six people, including U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, and injured fourteen others, among them U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, speculation has understandably been intense over the possible motives of the suspected shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner.

Loughner's identified on-line writings and videos on sites such as MySpace and YouTube—his "Internet footprint"—are few in number, but do provide some evidence of his state of mind.  In addition, it appears that Loughner, using the screen name Erad3, posted writings on the conspiracy-oriented Web site "Above Top Secret."  These postings provide more illumination about Loughner's probable mindset in recent months.

Taken together, Loughner's often disjointed, rambling and semi-coherent writings suggest someone who probably is not associated with any particular extremist groups or movements, but has a generic distrust of government and a vague interest in conspiracy theories.  They are indicative of an individual who has been exposed to a number of different ideas, from across the political spectrum, and has sometimes appropriated external concepts – often seemingly divorced from their original context.  However, Loughner's writings do not provide any solid body of evidence or any patterns that would seem clearly to point to a particular ideology or belief system as a significant motivating factor. 

In his writings, Loughner repeatedly returns to certain topics, including grammar, literacy, and "logic;" distrust of the government; and religion.