kitchen table math, the sequel: WSJ report on Jared Loughner in math class

Monday, January 10, 2011

WSJ report on Jared Loughner in math class

In an elementary algebra class at the college taught by math instructor Ben McGahee in the summer of 2010, Mr. Loughner was an immediate nuisance and often nonsensical, Mr. McGahee said. On the first day of class he blurted out, "How can you deny math instead of accepting it?"

"The other students were concerned after class," Mr. McGahee said. "They said he was red in the face, shaking."

On his first test Mr. Loughner wrote "Mayhem Fest!!!" in large letters, Mr. McGahee said.

Mr. McGahee said he appealed to counselors and a dean to have Mr. Loughner removed from his class on several occasions.

"I was pretty concerned about what he was capable of doing," Mr. McGahee said. "They said there's nothing we can do, he hasn't brought a weapon, he hasn't taken any action."

Mr. McGahee said that for the first week of class, a campus police officer was stationed outside the room, which Mr. McGahee understood was because Mr. Loughner was known to be troubled.

But school spokesman Paul Schwalbach said a campus officer was never assigned to Mr. Loughner.

"He was a disruptive and an odd, strange sort of character in the class," Mr. Schwalbach said. "He wasn't dangerous."

Mr. Loughner finally left Mr. McGahee's class during the third week following a heated confrontation that involved the campus officer, a dean and a counselor, according to Mc.Gahee and Mr. Schwalbach.

Mr. Schwalbach said the outbursts in classrooms and libraries didn't indicate to school officials a mental health problem or other concerns that would draw in local authorities outside of the school.

In September, after five run-ins with campus police for disruptive behavior and the discovery of rantings on YouTube, Mr. Loughner was issued a suspension letter, delivered by police officers to Mr. Loughner's home. After he had already withdrawn from the school, the college sent him a letter informing him he would have to take a mental health exam if he were to return.

Suspect Showed Signs of Imbalance
JANUARY 10, 2011, 3:42 A.M. ET
I'm wondering how Loughner behaved in other classes.

For my money, E. Fuller Torrey is the person to read on this subject:

The Seriously Ill and the Worried Well
Make Kendra's Law Permanent by E. Fuller Torrey


Catherine Johnson said...

This may be off-base, but as I'm thinking about it I can only remember violent attacks on math professors: the killing at Stanford & the mail bomb sent to David Gelernter (right?)

I just looked up the Virginia Tech shootings. The killer was an English major, but he went to the building housing the Engineering Science and Mechanics program to shoot students & faculty.

I realize this is grisly...but I have to say I'm wondering whether there have been violent attacks on English professors, say.

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed (who is a history professor) was once the subject of a potential threat at UCLA --- that's a pretty funny story, though not in this context, of course.

What was funny about it was that the history department was immediately given protection, but I had nothing in Studio City & the student involved lived in the Valley.

I was alone with Jimmy (who is autistic) & the car wouldn't start.

Catherine Johnson said...

I saw a news report that said classmates in his poetry class also saw a lot of irrational behavior. I couldn't tell whether those classmates (or the teacher) were frightened by his behavior.

Catherine Johnson said...

Apparently he was focused on grammar as well as math---which I also find interesting.

I think one of his complaints was that the government was trying to control grammar ----