Loughner would grin, speak gibberish, laugh to himself and clench his fists, said Steven Cates, 21, one of three poetry students who said they feared Loughner would bring a gun to school.

Amy Jensen, 26, said she dropped the class because Loughner created a "chemistry of uneasiness.... He just creeped me out." She said she pictured him with a gun.

Cates said he tried to strike up conversations with Loughner when he'd see him on campus. He said he had a gut feeling about Loughner: "If something did happen, maybe I wouldn't be on his list of targets."

In late January 2010, Loughner's response to a poem about a woman's abortion was so off the wall that campus police and administrators were brought in.

"I remember him saying something about strapping a bomb to the fetus and making a baby bomb out of it," said classmate Lydian Ali, 26.

Pima College administrator Aubrey Conover met with Loughner and his mother. "He said that the class had been talking about abortion, which made him think of death, which made him think of suicide bombers, which made him think of babies as suicide bombers," Conover wrote in a report.

To avoid ejection, Conover said, "Jared said he would just not say anything in class."

In March 2010, according to the Arizona Republic, Loughner was fired from a volunteer dog walking position with the Pima Animal Care Center after defying instructions and walking puppies into a parvovirus quarantine area.

On April 6, Pima campus police were called to the library, where Loughner was making loud noises while working on a computer and listening to music with ear buds. He was told his behavior was unacceptable, the police reported, and he agreed to stop.

Two weeks later, he began posting on Earth Empires, an online gaming site. (A site administrator identified Loughner as the poster "Dare"). Dare's comments were angry and disjointed; he wrote about weight lifting, rejection by women and a failure to find work because of his run-ins with law enforcement.

He wrote that he'd been fired from jobs at Peter Piper Pizza, Red Robin, Quiznos, Eddie Bauer and a Chinese fast-food restaurant.

"I had to walk out of Red Robin — terrible situation," he wrote. "Mental breakdown."

In mid-May, about the same time he was talking about his job problems online, campus police were called to his Pilates class. His instructor asked for protection after a heated discussion with Loughner over his B grade. "told this woman. That she was a Bully," he wrote on Earth Empires.

On May 18, a teammate responded: "The more I read Dare's posts, the more I think he's just drunk/high."

Loughner replied: "I have no substance abuse problems currently."

A month later, Loughner updated his job search: "Currently at 65 applications. No interview."

From the first day of a summer algebra class, the instructor and students were unsettled. "How can you deny math instead of accepting it?" he challenged the instructor, Ben McGahee.

"One lady came to me at the end of class and said, 'I'm really scared for my life,'" said McGahee, who alerted administrators.

The next day at 8:20 a.m., school counselor DeLisa Siddall pulled Loughner out of class to talk.

"He gives me this dark, evil look like, 'You're trying to single me out; you're trying to get at me,'" McGahee said.