"As we understand it, there have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats to kill," [Sheriff] Dupnik said during a press conference Saturday evening. But he wouldn't say who those threats were aimed at.It is one thing for a family member or friend to fail to take action on violent threats. It is another for law enforcement to look the other way. This wasn't his first run-in, either; he wasn't just tossed out of college. The police had to respond to a college class to remove him:
Most murders are not committed by "average people" who "just snap." It happens, but it is rare. Most of the time they are known to police.
Scheidemantel said the school and police backed her up appropriately. "Pima, I have to commend them. Backed me up and was right there. One officer talked to him for about a half-hour outside the classroom, and I think they realized that he was not thinking rationally, and the other officer mentioned something about maybe special ed or whatever. I didn't know, I had no indication if just was in a special program or something like that."
In this case, the local police knew he was unhinged and they knew he was making violent threats. For some reason, nobody took out a protective order (which would have put him on the NICS no-buy list) at the recommendation of local law enforcement (perhaps because they didn't suggest it?). The police never arrested him for assault or terroristic threats. While likely not disabling felonies, these would have gotten him into the system, off the streets for awhile, and maybe gotten him access to a mental health evaluation.
Sheriff Dupnik should take a long look at that local law enforcement agency that let Loughner continue his activities. Admittedly, Pina County is on the same population as Anchorage. I'm sure the police are busy, and terroristic threats are probably pretty low on their priority list. This hammers home the point that if you are a victim of stalking or threats you must file police reports, press charges, and get the restraining order. Yes, also take more concrete steps to protect yourself in case the paper is ignored, but the paper does play an important role too. Too often the police will be happy to push a ticking time bomb like Loughner to the right if the victims aren't assertive because they are too busy putting out today's fires to worry about tomorrow's possible cases. Still, for Dupnik to blame everyone but not look at his department smells a little funny; cui bono from diverting attention?