TODAY   |  January 09, 2011

Loughner was getting ‘a little different,’ says friend

Caitie Parker, a former classmate of Jared Lee Loughner, tells TODAY’s Lester Holt that she detected a change in the alleged gunman’s personality.

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

LESTER HOLT, co-host (Tucson, Arizona): And I 'm Lester Holt reporting live in Tucson , Arizona . I'm at the scene of that deadly shooting rampage that's rattled not only this community but the entire nation. And, Jenna , we should note as you look out across the parking lot behind me, it's not only a police investigation, the FBI , obviously, is heavily involved here. This hour, we know that six are confirmed dead. At least 13 others are injured, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords . Police have one suspect in custody. He is identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner . We're going to get more insight on who he is when I talk live with a former classmate of his. But police say they are still searching for another man they say may have been associated with Loughner . There's a picture of him. Coming up, we'll speak live to the mayor of Tucson for all the latest on that investigation and how this community is holding together less than 24 hours after this tragedy unfolded. Jenna :

WOLFE: Meanwhile, here in New York , we'll have more on Congresswoman Giffords . She was shot once in the head. And as of right now, she remains in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery last night. Coming up, more on how she survived and her prospects for a recovery. Lester :

HOLT: All right, Jenna .

LESTER HOLT, co-host (Tucson, Arizona): We want to begin this half-hour with more on 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner . He's now in custody, as we noted. Caitie Parker is a former classmate of his. Caitie , good morning and thank you for joining us.

Ms. CAITIE PARKER (Classmate of Jared Loughner): Good morning. Good morning. Thank you for having me.

HOLT: Tell me -- tell me what you know about him. You went to, I think, high school as well as college with him. Describe him to me.

Ms. PARKER: Jared was a funny guy. He was very caring and political and he loved music.

HOLT: You say "political." Was he outspoken in his political views and did anything strike you?

Ms. PARKER: I mean, he was outspoken, but nothing that would trigger or make me think of a trigger to make him do something that he did yesterday.

HOLT: Yeah. Did he talk about, though, anything regarding present anti-government views or any particular issue that's been on the front burner?

Ms. PARKER: Not when I knew him, no.

HOLT: You noticed -- you said he was caring. A lot of people say he's been somewhat detached and a bit of a loner. Did you detect some -- any change in his personality?

Ms. PARKER: I personally haven't seen him in three years, but as -- the last time I saw him , as I look back on it, he was getting a little -- a little different.

HOLT: And then when you heard on the news yesterday that he was the suspect in the shooting, what was the first thing that went through your mind? Describe your emotions and your feelings.

Ms. PARKER: I was in complete disbelief that someone that I knew personally could be capable of something so evil.

HOLT: And we've heard -- we've reported about some of his videos, the YouTube postings, the MySpace postings about some of his views about government. Had you seen any of his -- any of his social network products?

Ms. PARKER: I haven't, no. I haven't talked to him in three years. And when I knew him, I mean, he gave me his manifesto once, but that was the only thing to signal maybe he was getting a little radical, but that's about it.

HOLT: Did he ever talk about guns? To your knowledge, did he have any weapons?

Ms. PARKER: Not when I knew him, no, sir.

HOLT: All right. Caitie Parker , thank you for talking with us. We do appreciate your time with us this morning. We want to send it back to New York now and get a check of the morning's headlines. Jeff Rossen is at the newsdesk for us in Studio 1A . Jeff , good morning.