TODAY   |  January 09, 2011

Clearer picture emerges of alleged Ariz. shooter

Based on recent Internet writings, a picture is emerging of an emotionally disturbed young man. NBC Pete Williams reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

JENNA WOLFE, co-host: This morning 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner is in police custody. Many questions remain unanswered as to what his motives were. NBC 's justice correspondent, Pete Williams , joins us from Washington with more on the investigation. Good morning, Pete .

PETE WILLIAMS reporting: Good morning. We may learn more today about one avenue of inquiry, and that is whether he acted alone or whether someone else knew what he was planning to do. But based on the suspect's recent Internet writings, a picture is emerging of an emotionally disturbed young man. The man accused of firing the shots is a college dropout who was rejected by the US military . Law enforcement officials say he's Jared Lee Loughner , age 22, who grew up in Tucson and went to public schools there. Two years ago military officials say he applied to enlist in the Army but was found to be unqualified. For what reason, they won't say. But in a series of rambling writings on the Internet he offers a tortured world view. The county sheriff says Loughner is mentally unbalanced.

Mr. CLARENCE DUPNIK (Pima County Sheriff): I have no reason to believe that the person was insane. Was he unstable? I would agree with that.

WILLIAMS: His Internet postings say the government is engaging in mind control and brainwashing by controlling grammar. Read the Constitution , he says, to understand what he calls all the current treasonous laws. Ands he says every police officer in the US is operating unconstitutionally.

Mr. CLINT VAN ZANDT (Former FBI Profiler): We've got a very challenged individual who has issues concerning government and probably conspiracies, which suggests paranoia on his part.

WILLIAMS: But there's nothing in these writings about current political issues like the fight over health care. And he makes no reference to any office holder, including Representative Giffords . A friend from high school says Loughner asked the Congresswoman a question when she visited Tucson three years ago, then complained she couldn't answer it.

Ms. CAITIE PARKER (Former Classmate): He asked her a question which made absolutely no sense to me, and I can't even recall it today. But he said, 'She didn't -- she didn't understand it. I don't understand what it is with politicians. They don't get it.'

WILLIAMS: The former classmate at Pima Community College in Tucson says Loughner often disrupted a math class with nonsensical outbursts. Another friend from college tells NBC News that Loughner called Friday night after being out of contact since last spring and left a voice message. "Hey, it's Jared ," the message said, according to the friend. "We had some good times together. See you soon." A Pima College spokesman says Loughner quit school after he was suspended for posting a disturbing video on the Internet . The spokesman could not recall whether it was threatening. And then early Saturday morning he wrote on his Web page , quote, "Goodbye. Please don't be mad at me." Investigators say he had only a minor scrape with the law before this, drug charges that was dropped, and they say there's no record so far of his having threatened members of Congress or other elected officials in the past, Jenna .