Now what? After the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz. -- six dead, including a federal judge, and 14 shot, including a congresswoman left as a national martyr, a symbol of the evil people are capable of heaping on each other -- now what do we do as a nation? We've lived through more than a week of people throwing barbs tinged with poisonous political rhetoric at each other (Republican rantings made the gunman snap! No, it was the tea party! It was intolerant liberal politics that made him pull the trigger!), and now that the initial vomiting of invectives is over, can we please just take a breath?

We need to not be distracted from solving crimes and figuring out what drives people to mass murder.

Let's logically look at the facts surrounding the history of 22-year-old Jared Loughner and ignore those who would use this terrible calamity to advance their own political agendas. Examine what happened in Tucson on Jan. 8 as a detective would who's investigating what crime cops call Rampage Murder.

We've learned Loughner was a troubled loner, a behavioral problem in high school. In college he literally "scared the crap" out of classmates who worried that he might bring a gun to class.

One young woman said she took to sitting "by the door with my purse handy," in case Loughner exploded. Jared had been arrested for drug possession and had multiple run-ins with campus police, and he was kicked out of college until he underwent a mental health exam.

There's no indication Loughner ever complied with that requirement. He was able to legally buy a gun last year, since he'd never been put on any sort of watch list.

After the mass murders last week, a photojournalist snapped a picture of a macabre altar featuring a mock human skull surrounded by shriveled oranges and candles in his backyard. The delusional writings and videos Jared Loughner left behind reveal one indisputable fact: He is a mentally sick man.

While his Internet ramblings are full of the zigs and zags of anger at "government mind control" and the currency and grammar systems we use, and praise for his favorite books, like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Communist Manifesto," there's no concrete evidence that he followed the actions of any particular political group.

In fact, Loughner was registered to vote as an independent.

But the politically infected media irresponsibly seized upon the "politics made him do it" theory -- spread it far and wide -- with no real proof of motivation. Sarah Palin was to blame, or was it Nancy Pelosi? Maybe it was Fox News' Glenn Beck or MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

No matter, since Arizona sits at ground zero in the immigration debate, it must have had something to do with politics! There was scant discussion of gun laws and gun control, but not enough for my taste.

My thoughts and those of many in law enforcement I spoke with immediately after the Tucson shootings went to the likes of those murderous and disturbed souls like Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the shooters from Columbine High School; and Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech, another revenge murderer who killed 32 people.

Their gruesome histories taken together put Loughner's trajectory in perspective. Like them, Loughner, who also chronicled his darkest thoughts in disturbing journals, is perhaps suffering from schizophrenia or some other diagnosable condition.

Instead of the focus being on which political party might have lit Loughner's final fuse, why didn't we -- why don't we -- concentrate more on the mental health of our fellow citizens? Why didn't anyone notice how truly unhinged this kid had become, wallowing in a world of what he called "consciousness dreaming"?

Did his parents grasp how really ill he was? Should officials at Pima Community College have reported Loughner's strange behavior to police?

The reason we got the spate of news we did in the hours after the shooting is simple, of course. It's easier to pick today's fractured political environment to blame because there's never a shortage of pundits lining up to give their opinion to the masses.

President George W. Bush said something during his inauguration address in 2001 that's always stuck with me. "Sometimes our differences run so deep it seems we share a continent but not a country." Whether you align yourself with the former president or not, his words still ring true. We've allowed our differences to define who we are, and the truth is: We are a fractured nation. Many of us live with the idea that it's US against THEM.

In the meantime, reality continues all around us. And it often goes uncovered by a media grasping at ways to stay relevant. The Kaczynskis, Klebolds, Harrises, Chos and Laughners are not going away. They are walking among us right now, fermenting their mental illness in their own dark place and displaying it in all sorts of ways that we're just too blind to see.

We need to find better ways to read their signals before they launch their own revenge.

Examiner Columnist Diane Dimond is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.