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Monday
Jan102011

Jared Loughner Radically Changed Before Alleged Shooting, Friend Says

Photo Courtesy - Myspace(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- A longtime friend of Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in custody following the murder of six people in an apparent assassination attempt on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said there was a mysterious, significant change in him a year before the shooting.

"He was a good person that just somehow changed so much," former classmate and friend Tong Shan told ABC News in an exclusive interview.  "I don't know what the hell happened to him."

When she heard news reports of Loughner's arrest in connection with the deadly attack, she said, "I was shocked, but I believed it was him."

According to court documents released Sunday, authorities discovered a safe in Loughner's home with a thank-you letter from Giffords for attending a Congress on Your Corner event in 2007 -- the same kind of event Loughner allegedly assaulted Saturday.  Another envelope said "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and "Giffords" and bore what appears to be Loughner's signature, the documents said.

Shan said she became friends with Loughner the day the two graduated from high school and also had class together at Pima Community College in 2007.  She said the two would hang out often after class but lost touch after the semester ended until they reconnected in the summer of 2010 when, Shan said, Loughner acted radically different.

"I don't know what might have caused him to change, but from the way he was talking to me [online]... you can see.  It was just questions and questions and random, weird questions that didn't go together," she said.  "He wanted to know everything... He would just trip out."

Said Shan, "I don't know why it didn't jump out at me, like, 'Hey, something's wrong."

Shan last spoke to Loughner in October, after he was suspended and dropped out of college and before he purchased a semi-automatic handgun from a gun shop in Tucson.  But she said while Loughner was "anti-government," he was never violent and never mentioned plans to buy a gun.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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