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Officials: Loughner researched assassins before Tucson attack

Jared L. Loughner researched famous assassins, the death penalty and solitary confinement on the Internet before the Jan. 8 shooting.
Image: Jared Loughner
Jared LoughnerAP
/ Source: The New York Times

Jared L. Loughner, the man accused of opening fire outside a Tucson supermarket on Jan. 8 in what the authorities consider an attempted political assassination, researched famous assassins, the death penalty and solitary confinement on the Internet before the shooting, an official close to the investigation said Wednesday.

Mr. Loughner, 22, pleaded not guilty on Monday to three counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting, which left six people dead and 13 injured. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, was shot in the head but survived. Additional charges, including murder, are expected.

Mr. Loughner checked himself into a Motel 6 on the evening before the attacks and was on his computer until the wee hours, authorities said. An analysis of his Web searches showed that he was busy researching hours before the shooting, which took place shortly after 10 a.m., an official said.

“He was looking at Web sites related to lethal injection and Web sites about famous assassinations,” said an official close to the investigation.

The Washington Post first reported the Internet searches on its Web site on Wednesday afternoon.

The official did not say which assassins Mr. Loughner looked up. The Web sites were found by searching the browser history of his computer. A more detailed forensic analysis of his computer is continuing, officials said.

The prosecution gave Mr. Loughner’s defense lawyer, Judy Clarke, computer records and witness interviews in Federal District Court on Monday. Neither the United States attorney’s office nor Ms. Clarke would comment on whether the computer searches were included in that information.

The news about Mr. Loughner's Internet activity came as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was among those injured in the shooting, was moved to a rehabilitation hospital from an intensive care unit on Wednesday morning after her condition improved.

The move from the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center to the nearby Institute for Rehabilitation and Research was delayed for three days because of a slight buildup of spinal fluid in Ms. Gifford’s brain, which started last Tuesday in Tucson before she was flown to Houston. Since arriving in Houston on Friday, Ms. Giffords has been in the intensive care unit where nurses could monitor a catheter implanted to drain the fluid.

But her doctors upgraded her condition from serious to good late Tuesday night, and removed the catheter, hospital officials said. She was transported by ambulance at 9:35 a.m. to the rehab hospital, the nationally renowned Institute for Rehabilitation and Research. Both hospitals are in the giant Texas Medical Center complex just south of downtown Houston. Police officers with dogs checked over the ambulance before Ms. Giffords was moved; her husband flashed a thumbs up from the front passenger seat during the ride, a local television station reported.

Ms. Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman in the attack nearly three weeks ago while speaking to voters outside a grocery store in Tucson.

This article, "Loughner Studied Assassins Before Attack, Officials Say," first appeared in The New York Times.