Loughner, 22, had been angry at Giffords for years and considered her a fake, according to the friend, Bryce Tierney, also 22. Loughner became even angrier when he attended a campaign event and she didn't fully answer his question, Tierney said:
"'He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, "What is government if words have no meaning?"'
"Giffords' answer, whatever it was, didn't satisfy Loughner. 'He said, "Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question," and I told him, "Dude, no one's going to answer that,"' Tierney recalls. 'Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her.'"
According to an FBI affidavit (PDF via the Washington Post), Loughner had a safe containing a form letter from Giffords and handwritten notes that said "I planned ahead" and "My assassination." Another friend told the Wall Street Journal that Loughner may have become fixated on Giffords "because she was the most accessible" politician.
Tierney told Mother Jones that he greeted news of the shooting with a shock of recognition. "When I heard Gabrielle Giffords has been shot, I was like 'Oh my God. ... ' For some reason I felt like I knew. ... I felt like if anyone was going to shoot her, it would be Jared."
Tierney said Loughner had talked about Giffords for years, though not every day.
"I saw his dream journal once. That's the golden piece of evidence. You want to know what goes on in Jared Loughner's mind, there's a dream journal that will tell you everything," he said.
You can read the whole interview here.
(Loughner's yearbook photo: AP)
- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
- dream journal