National News

Tucson mass killer left message in sign language before attack

Posted April 5, 2018 11:02 a.m. EDT

— Three minutes before the 2011 shooting attack in Tucson that left six people dead and wounded more than a dozen others, Jared Lee Loughner was waiting in line at a grocery store checkout.

Loughner had been meandering through the store for about 12 minutes before deciding to buy a single bottle of water. After fumbling through a plastic baggie containing cash near the register, he glanced high up at the ceiling – perhaps for a surveillance camera – and smiled.

Then he said something in American Sign Language, a topic he studied at Pima Community College.

Loughner collected his change and walked out of the store. The attack happened one minute later.

More than seven years after the shooting, the scene inside the Tucson grocery store was revealed for the first time through surveillance video released by the FBI.

The agency released 12 videos from the store along with hundreds of photographs of the shooting scene and other evidence.

In the checkout line, Loughner signed, "I'm sorry, thank you," followed by a few more signs we could not readily identify. Some signers contacted by Arizona's Family suggested he might have been referencing a name.

The FBI also released hundreds of photos. Among them: Loughner's handwritten notes on a firearm instruction manual.

"History in the [expletive] making," he wrote. Elsewhere on the manual he added, "You have a piece of a historic gun."

Loughner was sentenced to life in prison in November 2012.