TODAY   |  January 12, 2011

Pal: Mug shot shows ‘monster,’ not Loughner

Zane Gutierrez, a friend of alleged Arizona gunman Jared Lee Loughner, talks to TODAY’s Meredith Vieira about his friend’s spiral out of control, saying he had become a sick individual who needed help.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> zane was a close friend of jared loughner's and he's joining us exclusively. what was your first reaction, zane , when you heard on saturday that your friend was a suspect in these terrible shootings in tucson?

>> i was -- i was mortified. it was horrifying. i ended up sitting in my car for about four hours by myself. it's surreal. you don't really know what to do when something like that happens.

>> you met jared in 2007 , you were both seniors in high school . you really became friends the end of 2009 into 2010 . how would you describe him?

>> he was quirky, weird, but he's very intelligent. and, you know, our crowd, you know, we're a little different than we're very accepting and jared had a lot of really different ideas and views towards things. he was really into lucid dreaming and a lot of people found that to be awkward at that time and, you know, we tried always to accept that, like, between me and my friends. and it just -- yeah, i don't know how to describe it any better than that.

>> so you saw it as quirky like a lot of kids might be quirky, but not dangerous?

>> no, no, ma'am, jared was a really nice guy . the difference between the picture that is going around everywhere now, with the shaved head is that's not jared loughner, that's not my friend, that's a monster, that was a different person. yet again, not to be redundant, it's horrifying. it really is.

>> i know you used to shoot at cans for target practice, he was good with a weapon, obviously he demonstrated that. but did you ever see signs of rage back then, the kind of guy that might use a gun.

>> not a weapon. he was very intelligent. he could communicate what he was thinking. at that time when i knew him. but as months progressed, he started to spiral and he started to get really into isolated himself from what we would consider like reality, i guess, is the best way to put it. he started becoming more agitated, he got more frustrated if something was said that he didn't agree with, when at first jared was a very reaccept tiff person, he was always interested in hearing a new concept, a new idea, he would start yelling no, you're wrong. you're stupid, you have no idea what you're talking about. to just about anything and everything. and it just progressed and escalated from there.

>> he had met congresswoman giffords in 2007 at an event similar to the one she was at last week. and after he asked a question, he was not satisfied with her answer. did he ever talk to you about that.

>> yes, actually i remember that conversation. it only -- he only brought it up once and it never seemed like something that bothered him that much, but it did bother him. he felt that for some reason her being unable to answer his question and his question itself was strange and we let him know that and it was a difficult question to maybe even put into words to answer. but for some reason he felt like hiss representative unable to answer that question had failed him in some way, shape or form. and it really head hlet him down on a personal level. i don't know how to put that.

>> i know you have also said that he wasn't a political guy, into politics. why do you think he would have targeted her?

>> honestly at this point, i don't know what jared was thinking. i cannot speculate on to what was going on in jared 's mind, honestly, personally, having seen jared in march, i don't think jared really knew what he was thinking. i think jared just was trying to cause a reaction. jared was a sick individual, jared needed help and jared didn't get help. and this is what happened and now there's a 9-year-old girl that needs to be buried and there's a whole town who is grieving right now. and it's a terrible situation. it's horrible.

>> and before i let you go, very quickly, his relationship with his parents, did you ever see anything in the dynamic there?

>> they're all quiet people. jared 's house wasn't a house like some of my friends where we would feel comfortable going and sitting in the living room and watching tv and, you know, the mom would bring out a sandwich or something for everybody. jared 's house was not a place where it was comfortable to hang out really.

>> all right, zane , thank you so much for your time this morning.

>> you're more than welcome, ma'am, thank you.