Ex-Friend: Loughner Wanted Eyes of Public, Media

TUCSON - In the hours before Jared Lee Loughner allegedly opened fire outside a Tucson supermarket, killing six people, he reached out to an old friend.

Early Saturday morning about 2 a.m., Bryce Tierney's phone lit up. He didn't pick up - it displayed "restricted number" - but shortly afterwards Tierney listened to the voice mail and heard a quick, chilling message:

"Hey, it's Jared, we've had some good times and peace out."

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Tierney, who was an old friend from high school and college, said he had not had contact with Loughner for almost a year, when he was receiving "really weird" text messages - "sort of like the weird, strange, under-the-radar sort of comments that he would make publicly, around people, that would make people feel real uncomfortable," Tierney said.

He described them as "nihilistic comments that make absolutely no sense."

As news of the deadly shooting spread through Tucson, his fears grew, thinking that the shooter may have been his old friend: "I'm not very sure who else would shoot Gabrielle Giffords, you know?"

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On CBS' "Early Show" Tuesday, Tierney recalled Loughner's obsession with Giffords goes back to a 2007 event where Loughner posed a question which he didn't feel she answered, and became angry. Tierney said Loughner asked Giffords: "What is government if words have no meaning?"

"I was like, 'Wow, Jared, I can't believe they actually asked your question, because that's sort of ridiculous!'" Tierney said. "He seemed to dwell on the fact that she wouldn't answer his question. I think that was just like the start of it."

When asked if Loughner was the kind of person who wanted attention, Tierney said, "Attention? I would say more just the reaction, more of trolling for a reaction, and the eye of the public, and the eyes of the media, and stuff like that."

Tierney said his friend wasn't political, but he was increasingly frustrated with government.

"I knew Jared Loughner as just a regular kid," Tierney said. "I never thought I'd, you know, know him as a mass murderer."

Loughner stopped talking to his friends last March. In fact, he had no contact with Tierney in the ten months leading up to Saturday's voice mail. Tierney said, "He just seemed sort of down."

He said it's "a very strange, uncomfortable spot to be in, to know that you were possibly, like, one of the last people that he might have attempted to contact, you know, before doing this. It's pretty uncomfortable."

Tierney said he would have picked up the phone Saturday morning if he'd known it was Loughner - and that maybe things would have turned out differently.

"If I knew he was on the other line, I probably would have picked up the phone, I mean, purely based on the fact that I hadn't heard from him in a long, long time," Tierney told anchor Erica Hill. "It's hard to say, like, what I'd say to him because I'm really not sure what he was going to say to me, you know? But if I had the chance, I probably would have answered the phone just because it was a friend that I hadn't talked to in a long time trying, you know, to get back in contact."

"Do you think anything would have been different?" Hill asked.

"I think that's hard to say. But, you know, possibly," Tierney said.

When asked his reaction to Loughner's mug shot, Tierney said, "I think it's what everyone else's reaction was: It's a pretty creepy picture. I mean, it's very disturbing."

"Did you see anything in that face or in those eyes that was the Jared Loughner that you knew, who was a friend of yours?" Hill asked.

"Absolutely not, no. No."
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