Loughner's Smirk Behind Bars

loughner-yearbook-tease2
Jared Loughner Marana Unified School District-AP

Suspected Tucson shooter Jared Loughner is in Marshal's custody in Phoenix, U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales tells The Daily Beast’s Eve Conant. (The Marshals Service is the oldest federal law-enforcement agency in the nation; its tasks include federal judicial security, fugitive investigations, witness protection, and prisoner transfers and operations.)

The Daily Beast: Have you seen Loughner, where is he now?
Gonzales: We have him now. I was with him Tuesday. He doesn't say much, he just sits in his cell with a smirk on his face, nothing else.

That same smile from his mugshot?
Not a smile, just a smirk. When I saw him he was in the temporary cell, just before his arraignment. It's a 6' by 6' holding cell. He refuses to talk with deputy marshals, just 'yes' or 'no,' or 'OK,' just one-syllable answers. It's almost like nobody is worthy of him speaking to anybody. I saw him at about 1:45, I went to the temporary cell block outside the courtroom to escort him in with other deputy Marshals.

Did you ask him anything?
No, there's no reason or need for that.

How was he behaving?
He has this sort of "paranoid headlights" stare, I was talking to a psychologist friend of mine and that seems like the right term for what I saw. He just sat there, elbows resting on his knees, staring straight ahead and smirking. I saw him do that for about 15 minutes straight, just looking at the wall. After the arraignment he was taken back to the holding cell and transferred to an undisclosed location. [Some reports say Loughner has been transferred to the Federal Correctional Facility in Phoenix, FCI Phoenix.]

How did you first learn about the attacks?
I was visiting a friend Saturday morning and got a call from our Tucson office that we had a big situation, a mass shooting involving the congresswoman. I ran home, threw my suitcase together, and starting driving down. I was then called and told Judge Roll was one the victims, that he was dead at the scene, they hadn't moved the body yet. I couldn't absorb that. I thought I was hearing things. We work a lot with the judge, he handled all administrative issues in the district, everything about what goes in a courthouse from managing prisoners and our work, the protection of judges. I've known him since he was a county attorney in Pima County and I was an undercover narc, he'd prosecute my cases. One of our first jobs was to determine whether Roll was a target of the attack, and whether there might be other organized or coordinated threats to judges nationally. [Judge Roll was initially considered a likely target of the massacre, he had received serious threats in the past, in particular over his ruling in a case involving Mexican immigrants and had been under 24-hour Marshal protection for one month in 2009].

You've spent time with the judge's family, how are they faring?
Gabby had put out a robo-call the day before the attack, I got it on my cell, and the judge had also. That morning on Saturday he had gone to Mass, and then came home and listened to his cell messages, where he heard the robo-call that she was holding her gathering at the Safeway at Ina and Oracle. He told his wife Mo [Maureen] that he'd stop by to see Gabby and be back in half an hour. She got a call at 11:15 saying there had been an awful shooting at the Safeway. She told me she realized right away that he was dead, that "nobody had to tell me, I knew." They would have been married 41 years this month. His neighbors love him, they didn't even know he was a federal judge, he just talked about his grandkids, dogs, and his wife. He was so down to earth.

What were your next steps?
Threats against judges are up [the Marshal's Service says that 2010 figures are still being verified, but that the number of  "inappropriate communications" directed at the judiciary, U.S. attorneys and other court officers has risen from 1,111 in 2006 to 1390 in 2009]. On a crime like this, you have to worry about copycats, you always have to keep that in the back of your mind. You also have the problem of some in the press looking at social networks to get details on Loughner, but there were at least one or two phony Facebook pages attributed to him that were false, authorities talked to Facebook and they took them down.

How quickly did those pop up?
Almost immediately, within hours of the shooting. They just said things like "this is Jared" and a bunch of gibberish. They were created when he was already in jail.

Do you know Giffords personally?
Very well, we've worked together on Southwest border issues. She's asked me and other law enforcement to appear at town hall meetings, she just recently starting calling it "Congress on Your Corner," she did these all the time, with ICE, DEA the Marshals. I did two or three last year with her on border issues, she's been very, very involved in working to fix our border issues.

This originally appeared on the DailyBeast

Join the Discussion