UK & World News

  • 16 December 2012, 10:58

Newtown Shooting: Gunman Was Honours Student

The gunman behind the Connecticut school shooting was an honours student who lived in a wealthy neighbourhood with his mother.

Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother Nancy at the home in Newtown they shared. He then drove her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where she had worked, and killed 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.

So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. They found no note or manifesto, and Lanza - who was armed with at least two handguns and a high powered rifle - had no criminal history. He did not speak during the shooting, witnesses say.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended Sandy Hook Elementary School several years ago.

Lanza attended Newtown High School and several local news clippings from recent years mention his name among the school's honour roll students.

Officials have said Lanza may have suffered from a personality disorder - and the gunman's older brother, Ryan Lanza, believes he did as well.

Police reportedly earlier confused Adam Lanza with Ryan, whose identity card he had been carrying with him when he went into the school.

The shooter's brother had been extremely co-operative and was not under arrest or in custody, but investigators were still searching his computers and phone records.

Ryan Lanza told police officers he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

Brett Wilshe, a friend of Ryan Lanza's, said he sent him a Facebook message on Friday asking what was going on and if he was OK.

According to Wilshe, Ryan Lanza's reply was something along the lines of: "It was my brother. I think my mother is dead. Oh my God."

Adam Lanza's aunt Marsha said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.

Marsha Lanza said she was close with Nancy Lanza and sent her a Facebook message on Friday morning asking how she was doing. Nancy Lanza never responded.

She described Nancy Lanza as a good mother and kind-hearted. If her son had needed counselling, "Nancy wasn't one to deny reality," she said.

Marsha Lanza said her husband saw Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary about him.

Catherine Urso, who was attending a vigil on Friday evening in Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer and remembered him for his alternative style.

"He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths," she said.

Adam Lanza belonged to the school's technology club, which held LAN - short for local area network - parties, when students would gather at a member's home, hook up their computers into a small network and play games.

Joshua Milas, who graduated from Newtown High School in 2009, said Adam Lanza was generally a happy person but that he had not seen him in a few years.

"We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart," he said.

"He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius."

Lanza's parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records.

His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Connecticut, according to public records, and he reportedly works as a tax director for General Electric.

An official said it was not clear that Adam Lanza had a job, and there was no indication of law enforcement interviews or search warrants at a place of business.

A neighbour in Newtown, Rhonda Cullens, said she knew Nancy Lanza from monthly get-togethers the neighbourhood women had some years ago for games of bunco, a dice game.

"She was a very nice lady," Ms Cullens said.

"She was just like all the rest of us in the neighbourhood, just a regular person."

Sandeep Kapur, who lives two doors down from the Lanza family in Newtown, said he did not know them and was unaware of any disturbances at the Lanza house in the three years that he and his family have been in the neighbourhood.

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