James Palka  /  AP
Emergency personnel move Rep. Gabrielle Goffords, D-Ariz., after she was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8.
By
updated 1/15/2011 10:03:23 PM ET 2011-01-16T03:03:23

He wandered through the dark streets of his hometown, meandering from one store to another on a furious all-night excursion as he prepared what authorities say were the final steps in taking revenge on a world from which he'd become progressively alienated.

Jared Loughner checked into a down-and-out motel. He picked up photos showing him holding a Glock 19 while wearing only a bright red G-string. He bought ammunition on one of three trips to two different Walmarts.

He called a high-school pot-smoking buddy, ran away from his father into a cactus-dotted desert and updated his MySpace profile to say, "Goodbye friends."

Michelle Martinez ran into Loughner during his rambling odyssey. She and some friends were hanging out in the neighborhood when a sullen figure emerged from the darkness in a black hooded sweatshirt and startled them. Loughner picked his way through the group rather than walk around them, offering a deep, distant "What's up?" He then quickened his pace and disappeared into the darkness.

"I had a feeling he was thinking about something," said Martinez, who knew Loughner from their school days. "It was just kind of weird."

Story: Could college have done more to help Tucson shooting suspect?

The encounter epitomizes Loughner's final hours as he became increasingly unhinged, culminating, authorities say, with him opening fire on a crowd of people at an event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded amid a barrage of bullets from a Glock 19.

Officials do not know what pushed the 22-year-old mentally disturbed loner over the edge, but interviews, records and a police chronology released Friday provide a fuller picture of his movements that in many ways reflect his scattered mind.

It would all play out within a few miles from the modest, single-story home where he grew up and lived all his life — save for a brief attempt he made at living in an apartment by himself.

Dashing from store to store, and home again
The chaotic night, according to the official law enforcement chronology, began at 11:35 p.m. when he dropped off a roll of 35 mm film at a Walgreens.

In the next hour he stopped at a Circle K gas station/convenience store and checked into a Motel 6, a $37.99-a-night spot popular with truckers near a Long John Silver's and other fast-food restaurants.

If he slept at all that night, it wasn't for long.

At 1:45 a.m., he was back outside his parents' home, where he ran into Martinez and her friends.

At about 2 a.m., Loughner called an old friend, Bryce Tierney. They had been confidants in high school but hadn't talked for months — another in a series of friends with whom Loughner severed ties amid his increasingly bizarre behavior.

Loughner used to bang the drums in Tierney's garage while his friend jammed on the guitar. They used to talk philosophy, about how the modern world was draining people of individualism. They got high, as police found out when they pulled the two over in September 2007 and Tierney admitted they smoked a joint in a van on the way back from a convenience store.

Early Saturday, Tierney was up watching a real-life ghost chasers show on TV. When his cell phone rang, the incoming number was listed as blocked, so he didn't answer.

Tierney picked up the message immediately. It had a melancholy tinge: "Hey Bryce, it's Jared. We had some good times together. Peace out."

After the call, Loughner headed back to the Walgreens, where — at 2:19 a.m. — he picked up the developed photos. And 15 minutes later, he stopped to make more purchases at yet another convenience store.

'Goodbye friends,' Loughner posted online
At 4:12 a.m. Loughner was at a computer keyboard in an unknown location, typing a farewell bulletin on his MySpace page — "Goodbye friends." Authorities said the photo included in that posting was from the shots developed at Walgreens hours earlier.

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After one additional stop, at another Circle K, Loughner began his quest for ammo. His first stop, a Walmart between his house and the scene of the shooting, doesn't sell bullets before 7 a.m. It was only 6:12 a.m. He returned at 7:04 a.m., but left the store without making a purchase.

He then drove 5 miles west to a Walmart superstore, where he purchased 9 mm ammunition and a black, backpack style diaper bag. It was now 7:27 a.m.

Just three minutes later, he was pulled over for running a red light in his 1969 dark gray Chevy Nova.

Loughner was cooperative, and the officer from the Arizona Game and Fish Department took his driver's license and vehicle registration information. Loughner had no outstanding warrants and was let go with a warning. And without a search.

The only thing the officer saw in the car was fast-food wrappers.

Around 8 a.m., Loughner had returned home. And there was his father, Randy, who had questions for his son.

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The confrontation happened in the driveway.

The son pulled a black bag from the trunk of the Nova; Randy Loughner demanded to know what was going on.

"The father went out and said, 'What's that?' and he mumbled something and took off," Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said.

Loughner was desperate to escape. He hustled toward the corner where he used to catch the school bus with his neighbor Martinez, then hung a right and a quick left before entering a sandy wash that runs behind the houses on the other side of his street, North Soledad Avenue.

Winding his way through the desert scrub and cactus, Loughner arrived at a dry tributary 300 feet later that dead-ends into a bigger wash. His father jumped into his truck to catch up with his son.

But his son had disappeared from view.

Image: Jared Loughner
Pima County Sheriff's Office  /  AP
Jared Loughner checked into a motel, bought bullets and had photographs developed on the night before the shooting, police say.

Jared Loughner was alone again.

The only clue about the desert pursuit that has turned up is the black bag recovered Thursday at the intersection of the two washes. Inside, they found the same caliber of ammunition Loughner bought at Walmart.

Loughner's escape route took him up the wash, past the back of a post office, to where the dry stream bed opens into a broader swath of desert. In this part of suburbia, brush-choked expanses are never far away.

Eventually, Loughner returned to the Circle K he'd visited three hours earlier.

He was carrying two extended pistol clips that hold up to 31 bullets, along with two 15-round magazines, a four-inch buck knife, a Visa card, his driver's license and cash in a plastic bag.

Authorities said a cab picked him up at 9:41 a.m.

His destination was a Safeway store — and a violent confrontation with Gabrielle Giffords.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Timeline of Tucson shooting

Photos: Mourning follows deadly shooting in Arizona

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  1. A hearse carrying the remains of U.S. District Judge John Roll arrives at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church before his funeral on in Tucson, Ariz., Friday, Jan. 14. Roll was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting that left six dead and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Mary Kool holds a single red rose outside the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where the funeral of U.S. District Judge John Roll was to take place. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Mourners arrive at the funeral service of Judge Roll. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A flag recovered from ground zero is raised during funeral service for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson, on Thursday, Jan. 13. Green was the youngest victim of the shooting rampage. Green was born on Sept. 11, 2001. (Mamta Popat / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Left to right, Roxanna and John Green, mother and father of Christina Taylor Green, and their son Dallas Green, arrive at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church for her funeral in Tucson on Thursday. (Mamta Popat / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 2,000 mourners were in attendance at the funeral of Christina Taylor Green on Thursday in Tucson. (Mamta Popat  / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. People dressed as angels line the street leading to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where the funeral for Christina Taylor Green was to take place in Tucson on Thursday. Hundreds, dressed in white, lined the streets for more than a quarter mile of the funeral procession. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. John Green kisses his son Dallas on the head as the family follows the casket of Christina Taylor Green at her funeral mass in Tucson, on Thursday. At left is Christina's mother Roxanna and at right is Camden Grant, Christina's godmother's son. (Rick Wilking / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A young mourner carries flowers and a teddy bear to the funeral of Christina Taylor Green in Tucson on Thursday. (Mamta Popat / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cindy and John McCain listen during the funeral service for shooting victim Christina Taylor Green in Tucson on Thursday. (Greg Bryan / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A woman holds the service program from the funeral for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green outside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson on Thursday. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Arizona's McKale Memorial Center during the memorial service for victims of the shootings in Tucson. Obama told the crowd on Wednesday, Jan. 12, that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time since being shot in the head during the attack on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 wounded by the lone gunman. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Daniel Hernandez , the 20-year-old intern credited with likely saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, hugs her husband, NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly, as U.S. first lady Michelle Obama applauds. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. First lady Michelle Obama holds the hand of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's husband, NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly, as they listen to President Barack Obama speak. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. People sing the national anthem during the memorial service on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the start of the memorial event. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. People line up at the University of Arizona campus for the memorial service. (David Becker / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Barb Tuttle is overcome with emotion at a makeshift memorial outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 12 in Tucson. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Women waiting in line for the memorial service look at the campus paper at the University of Arizona. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, holds his wife's hand in the congresswoman's hospital room at University Medical Center on Jan. 9. (Offiice Of Gabrielle Giffords / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Ron Barber, 65, district director for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is visited by Giffords aide Daniel Hernandez in his hospital room on Jan. 9. Hernandez rushed to Gifford's aid after she was shot. Hernandez said that while he held the wounded Giffords, he asked another bystander to put pressure on Barber's wounds. He also asked Barber for his wife's phone number and then shouted it out to someone so that Barber's wife, Nancy, could be informed of the shooting. (Gabrielle Giffords' Office / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence with White House staff members on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Jan. 10. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Congressional staff observe a moment of silence to honor victims of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on the steps of the Capitol in Washington. (Michael Reynolds / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Rachel Cooper-Blackmore, 9, adds a note to a memorial at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, on Jan. 10. Christina Taylor Green, 9, was killed during the Tucson attack. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Rachel Crabb, 5, holds hands with teachers, parents and other students during a moment of silence for her slain schoolmate, Christina Taylor Green, at Mesa Verde Elementary School on Jan. 9. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Candles are lit on Sunday at a makeshift memorial outside University Medical Center in Tuscon, Ariz., for those killed or wounded during the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords . (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Ellie Steve, 6, from left, Lucia Reeves, 6, and Zoe Reeves, 18, gather for a candlelight vigil outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Six balloons representing the six people killed in Saturday's shooting spree, as part of a prayer vigil.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords battled for her life on Sunday after an assailant shot her in the head and killed six others in a rampage that has launched a debate about extreme political rhetoric in America. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. People console each other at a makeshift memorial located outside the University Medical Center on Jan. 9 in Tucson, Ariz. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. The American flag flies at half-staff on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 9. In a brief statement Sunday morning, House Speaker John Boehner said flags on the House side of the Capitol in Washington will be flown at half-staff to honor the slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman, of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Thirty-year-old Zimmerman was among six killed Saturday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. The congregation prays for the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tuscon, at the Pantano Christian Church in East Tucson, Jan. 9. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Monty Edmonds, 36, left, of Tucson; Maggie Kipling, 34, of Tucson; Leigh Harris, 50, of Phoenix; Bella Furr, 21, of Tucson; and Sarah Herrmann, 22, of Tucson participate in a vigil at University Medical Center for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during an event in front of a Safeway grocery store Jan. 8, in Tucson, Ariz. (Laura Segall / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Emergency personnel use a stretcher to move Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson on Saturday. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Ernie Freuler fights back tears as Ray Lilley takes photos of the scene outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head by a gunman who opened fire outside a grocery store, Saturday, Jan. 8, in Tucson, Ariz. (Chris Morrison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A law enforcement officer stands outside the home of Jared L. Loughner, identified by federal officials as the suspect arrested in connection with the shooting of U.S Representative Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. People gather for a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting in Arizona at the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Saturday Jan. 8. (Jose Luis Magana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Vera Rapcsak and others hold signs outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday after she was shot while meeting constituents. (Chris Morrison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Jan. 8, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot as the congresswoman was meeting with constituents. Rep. Giffords, 40, a Democrat, took office in January 2007, emphasizing issues such as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. The gunman shot Giffords in the head, seriously wounding her, and killed six other people in a shooting rampage at a public meeting in Tucson on Saturday. Giffords was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson where she underwent surgery. One of the doctors who treated her said he was optimistic about her recovery. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A woman places flowers by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday after she was shot in Tucson by a gunman who opened fire, killing six people, including a U.S. district judge, John M. Roll. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. In this photo provided by The White House, President Barack Obama talks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer about the shooting. (Pete Souza / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Emergency personnel at the scene where Giffords and others were shot outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson on Saturday. (Matt York / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Law enforcement personnel work the crime scene on Saturday. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A medical helicopter evacuates victims from the shooting scene. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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