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Adam Peter LANZA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: School shooting
Number of victims: 27
Date of murders: December 14, 2012
Date of birth: April 22, 1992
Victims profile: Nancy Lanza, 52, his mother / Rachel D'Avino, 29, teacher's aide / Dawn Hochsprung, 47, principal / Anne Marie Murphy, 52, teacher's aide / Lauren Rousseau, 30, teacher / Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist / Victoria Leigh Soto, 27, teacher / Charlotte Bacon, 6 / Daniel Barden, 7 / Olivia Engel, 6 / Josephine Gay, 7 / Dylan Hockley, 6 / Madeleine Hsu, 6 / Catherine Hubbard, 6 / Chase Kowalski, 7 / Jesse Lewis, 6 / Ana Marquez-Greene, 6 / James Mattioli, 6 / Grace McDonnell, 7 / Emilie Parker, 6 / Jack Pinto, 6 / Noah Pozner, 6 / Caroline Previdi, 6 / Jessica Rekos, 6 / Avielle Richman, 6 / Benjamin Wheeler, 6 / Allison Wyatt, 6
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as first responders arrived
 
 
 
 

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Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. Before driving to the school, Lanza had shot and killed his mother Nancy at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

The incident is the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. It is the second deadliest mass murder at an American elementary school, after the 1927 Bath School bombings in Michigan. However, it is the most deadly school shooting in any public school in the United States.

The shootings prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States, and a proposal for new legislation banning the sale and manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic firearms and magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition.

Background

As of November 30, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School had 456 children enrolled in kindergarten through fourth grade. According to school authorities, the school's security protocol had recently been upgraded, requiring visitors to be individually admitted after visual and identification review by video monitor. The doors to the school were locked at 9:30 a.m. each day, after morning arrivals.

Newtown is located in the Fairfield County suburbs of New York City. Violent crime had been rare in the town of 28,000 residents; there was only one homicide in the town in the ten years prior to the school shooting.

Shootings

Some time before 9:30 a.m. EST on Friday, December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza fatally shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, age 52, with a .22 Marlin rifle at their Newtown home. Investigators later found Nancy Lanza's body, clad in pajamas, in her bed with four gunshot wounds to her head. Adam Lanza then drove his mother's car to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

At about 9:35 a.m., using his mother's Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, Lanza shot his way through a locked glass door at the front of the school. He was wearing black clothing and a mask. Police denied reports that he had been wearing body armor, saying that "It was a fishing type vest, a jacket with a lot of pockets; it was not a bullet-proof vest." Some of those present heard initial shots on the school intercom system, which was being used for morning announcements.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were meeting with other faculty members when they heard gunshots. Hochsprung, Sherlach and lead teacher Natalie Hammond immediately left the room, rushed to the source of the sounds, and encountered and confronted Lanza. A faculty member who was at the meeting said the three women called out "Shooter! Stay put!" which alerted their colleagues to the danger and saved their lives. Lanza shot and killed both Hochsprung and Sherlach. Hammond ran back to the meeting room and pressed her body against the door to keep it closed. Lanza shot Hammond through the door, in her leg and arm. She was later treated at Danbury Hospital.

Hochsprung may also have turned on the school intercom to alert others in the building or it may have been left on following morning announcements. A nine-year-old boy said he heard the shooter say: "Put your hands up!" and someone else say "Don't shoot!", people yelling, and many gunshots over the intercom as he, his classmates, and teacher took refuge in a closet in the gymnasium. Diane Day, a school therapist who was at the faculty meeting with Hochsprung, heard screaming, followed by more gunshots. The police reported that a second adult was wounded in the attack, but that individual was not publicly identified. Later reports indicated that the second wounded teacher was closing a door further down the hallway when she was hit in the foot with a ricochet bullet. Lanza never entered her classroom

Lanza entered a first-grade classroom where Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher, had herded her first grade students to the back of the room and was trying to hide them in a bathroom. Rousseau and most of the students in her class were killed; a six-year-old girl was the sole survivor. The girl's family pastor said that she survived the mass shooting by playing dead and remaining still. When she reached her mother, she said, "Mommy, I'm okay, but all my friends are dead." The child described the shooter as a very angry man.

Lanza next went to another first-grade classroom nearby. The classroom's teacher, Victoria Leigh Soto, had concealed five children in a closet and some of the other students were hiding under desks. Soto was walking back to the classroom door to lock it when Lanza entered the classroom. Lanza walked to the back of the classroom, saw the children under the desks and shot them. First grader Jesse Lewis shouted at his classmates to run for safety, which several of them did. Lewis was looking directly at Lanza when Lanza fatally shot him. Six of the children who ran out of the classroom escaped, perhaps when Lanza's rifle jammed or when he erred in reloading it.

Earlier reports said that as Lanza entered her classroom, Soto reportedly told him that the children were in the auditorium. When several of the children came out of their hiding places and tried to run for safety, Lanza fatally shot them. Soto put herself between her students and the shooter, who then fatally shot her. Six surviving children from Soto's class and a school bus driver took refuge at a nearby home. Police found the five children who had been hidden in the closet unharmed when they entered the classroom. Eleven children from Soto's class survived.

Anne Marie Murphy, a teacher's aide who worked with special-needs students, shielded six-year-old Dylan Hockley with her body, trying to protect him from the bullets that killed them both. Teacher's aide Rachel D'Avino, who had been employed for a week at the school to work with a special-needs student, also died trying to protect her students.

School nurse Sally Cox, 60, hid under a desk in her office. She later described seeing the door opening and Lanza's boots and legs facing her desk from approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) away. He remained standing for a few seconds before turning around and leaving. She and the school secretary Barbara Halstead called 9-1-1 and hid in a first-aid supply closet for up to four hours. Custodian Rick Thorne ran through hallways, alerting classrooms.

First grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, age 29, hid 14 students in a bathroom and barricaded the door, telling them to be completely quiet to remain safe. Lanza is believed to have bypassed her classroom because, following a lockdown drill weeks earlier, Roig failed to remove a piece of black construction paper covering the small window in her classroom door. Lanza may have believed that Roig's classroom was empty because the door was closed and the window was covered.

School library staff Yvonne Cech and Maryann Jacob first hid 18 children in a part of the library the school used for lockdown in practice drills. Discovering that one door would not lock, they had the children crawl into a storage room, where Cech barricaded the door with a filing cabinet.

Music teacher Maryrose Kristopik, 50, barricaded her fourth-graders in a tiny supply closet during the rampage. Lanza arrived moments later, pounding and yelling "Let me in", while the students in Kristopik's class quietly hid inside.

Two third graders, chosen as classroom helpers, were walking down the hallway to the office to deliver the morning attendance sheet as the shooting began. Teacher Abbey Clements pulled both children into her classroom, where they hid.

Laura Feinstein, a reading specialist at the school, gathered two students from outside her classroom and hid with them under desks after they heard gunshots. Feinstein called the school office and tried to call 911 but could not connect because of lack of reception on her cell phone. She hid with the children for approximately 40 minutes, before law enforcement came to lead them out of the room.

Lanza stopped shooting between 9:46 am and 9:49 am after firing 154 rounds with the rifle. After realizing he had been spotted by a pair of police officers who had entered the building, Lanza fled from their sight, then fatally shot himself in the head with a Glock 10mm handgun in Soto's classroom.

Authorities determined that Lanza reloaded frequently during the shootings, sometimes firing only fifteen rounds from a thirty-round magazine. He shot all of his victims multiple times, and at least one victim, six-year-old Noah Pozner, 11 times. Most of the shooting took place in two first-grade classrooms near the entrance of the school, where he killed fourteen in one room and six in the other. The student victims were eight boys and twelve girls, between six and seven years of age, and the six adults were all women who worked at the school. Bullets were also found in at least three cars parked outside the school, leading police to believe that he was firing at a teacher who was standing near a window

First response

Newtown police dispatch first requested officers on the scene at 9:35 am Connecticut State Police received the first call at 9:41 am, and with Newtown police, quickly mobilized local police dog and police tactical units, a bomb squad, and a state police helicopter.

Police locked down the school and began evacuating the survivors room by room, escorting groups of students and adults away from the school. They swept the school for additional shooters at least four times. No shots were fired by the authorities. According to a transcript of police radio traffic, Lanza committed suicide within fifteen minutes of the first 911 call being received.

At approximately 10:00 am, Danbury Hospital scrambled extra medical personnel in expectation of having to treat numerous victims. Three wounded patients were evacuated to the hospital, where two children were later declared dead. The other was an unidentified adult.

The New York City medical examiner dispatched a portable morgue to assist the authorities. The victims' bodies were removed from the school and formally identified during the night after the shooting. A state trooper was assigned to each victim's family to protect their privacy and provide them with information

Investigation

On-site

Investigators are not believed to have found a suicide note or any messages referring to the planning of the attack. Janet Robinson, superintendent of Newtown schools, said she had not found any connection between Lanza's mother and the school in contrast to initial media reports that stated Lanza's mother had worked there.

Police also investigated whether Lanza was the person who had been in an altercation with four staff members at Sandy Hook School the day before the massacre. It was presumed that he killed two of the four staff members involved in the altercation (the principal and the psychologist) and wounded the third (the lead teacher) in the attack; the fourth staff member was not at the school that day. The state police stated that they did not know of any reports about any altercations at the school.

Police sources initially reported Lanza's sibling, Ryan Lanza, as the perpetrator. This was likely because the perpetrator was carrying his brother's identification, Ryan told The Jersey Journal. Lanza's brother voluntarily submitted to questioning by New Jersey State Police, Connecticut State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police said he was not considered a suspect, and he was not taken into custody. Ryan Lanza said he had not been in touch with his brother since 2010. Connecticut State Police indicated their concern about misinformation being posted on social media sites and threatened prosecution of anyone involved with such activities.

A large quantity of unused ammunition was recovered inside the school along with three semi-automatic firearms found with Lanza: a .223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle (with a 30 round magazine), a 10mm Glock handgun, and a 9mm SIG Sauer P226 handgun. Outside the school, an Izhmash Saiga-12 combat shotgun was found in the car Lanza had driven.

Shortly after the shooting, police announced that Lanza used the rifle to kill the victims at the school. At a press conference on December 15, Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut, was asked about the wounds, and replied "All the ones that I know of at this point were caused by the long weapon." When asked if the children suffered before dying, Carver replied by stating that "If so, not for very long". Under Connecticut law at the time, the 20-year-old Lanza was old enough to carry a long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun, but too young to own or carry handguns.

On March 28, 2013, court documents released from the investigation showed that the school shooting had occurred in the space of less than five minutes with 155 shots fired. This comprised 154 shots from the rifle and one shot from the 10mm pistol used by Adam Lanza to kill himself.

Off-site

Investigators evaluated Lanza's body, looking for evidence of drugs or medication through toxicology tests. Additionally, although unusual for an investigation of this type and unlikely to provide conclusive information, DNA testing of Lanza was utilized. Lanza's autopsy showed no tumors or gross deformities in his brain.

Lanza removed the hard drive from his computer and damaged it prior to the shooting, creating a challenge for investigators to recover data. Police believe that Lanza extensively researched earlier mass shootings, including the 2011 Norway attacks and the 2006 Amish school shooting at a one-room school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.

Details of the investigation were reported by law enforcement officials at a meeting of the International Association of Police Chiefs and Colonels held during the week of March 11, 2013. An article published in the New York Daily News on March 17, 2013, provided purported details of this report by an anonymous law enforcement veteran who had attended the meeting. The source stated that the investigation had found that Lanza had created a 7-by-4 foot sized spreadsheet listing around 500 mass murderers and the weapons they used, which was considered to have taken years of work and to have been used by Lanza as a "score sheet".

On March 18, 2013, Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police responded that the information from this meeting was "law enforcement sensitive information" and considered the release to be a leak. Lt. Vance also stated that the investigation is ongoing and that police will not speak directly to the public or release information prior to informing families involved in the shooting.

The aforementioned March 28 documents also provided details on items found at Lanza's home, including three samurai swords, a newspaper article about the Northern Illinois University shooting, and a National Rifle Association certificate. The NRA denied that Adam Lanza or Nancy Lanza were members and reporters noted that the NRA site provides training certificate completion templates for courses offered by NRA affiliated instructors. A gun safe was found in a bedroom and investigators found more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition and other firearms. At home, Lanza had access to three more firearms: a .45 Henry rifle, a .30 Enfield rifle, and a .22 Marlin rifle. These were legally owned by Lanza's mother who was described as a gun enthusiast.

The documents released contained an affidavit stating that Adam Lanza spent significant amounts of time at home playing the video game Call of Duty.

Perpetrator

Adam Peter Lanza (April 22, 1992 – December 14, 2012) and his mother lived in Sandy Hook, 5 miles (8 km) from the elementary school. He did not have a criminal record. He attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for a brief time. Afterward, he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Newtown, and then Newtown High School, where he was an honors student. Lanza subsequently was home-schooled by his mother, and earned a GED. Lanza's aunt said his mother removed him from the Newtown public school system because she was unhappy with the school district's plans for her son. He attended Western Connecticut State University in 2008 and 2009.

Students and teachers who knew him in high school described Lanza as "intelligent, but nervous and fidgety". He avoided attracting attention and was uncomfortable socializing. He is not known to have had any close friends in school.

Lanza's brother told law enforcement that Adam was believed to have a personality disorder and was "somewhat autistic". An anonymous law enforcement official and friends of Nancy Lanza reported that Adam had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. According to the Hartford Courant and Frontline, Lanza was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder when he was about 6. This disorder does not have official status by the medical community as a formal diagnosis but is frequently one of the characteristics of autism.

Following her divorce from Adam's father, a corporate executive, Nancy Lanza was supported by alimony payments. A relative commented that she did not have to work because the divorce settlement had left her "very well off". There were initially conflicting reports on whether Lanza had worked as a volunteer at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Her sister-in-law described Nancy Lanza as a "gun enthusiast who owned at least a dozen firearms". She often took her two sons to a local shooting range and had them learn to shoot.

Due to concerns that published accounts of Lanza's autism could result in a backlash against others with the condition, autism advocates campaigned to clarify that autism is a brain-related developmental problem and not a mental illness. The predatory aggression demonstrated by Lanza in this rampage is generally not seen in the autistic population.

Reactions

President Barack Obama gave a televised address the day of the shootings, saying, "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." Obama expressed "enormous sympathy for families that are affected". He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and other U.S. federal government facilities worldwide in respect of the victims. On December 16, Obama traveled to Newtown where he met with victims' families and spoke at an interfaith vigil. President Obama honored the six slain adults posthumously with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal on February 15, 2013.

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy addressed the media the evening of the shootings near a local church holding a vigil for the victims, urging the people of Connecticut to come together and help each other. Malloy said, "Evil visited this community today, and it is too early to speak of recovery, but each parent, each sibling, each member of the family has to understand that Connecticut, we are all in this together, we will do whatever we can to overcome this event, we will get through it." Hundreds of mourners, including Malloy, attended vigils in various churches in Newtown. On December 17, Malloy called for a statewide moment of silence and church bells to be tolled 26 times at 9:30 am on Friday, December 21, exactly one week after the school shooting.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said "... our thanks go out to every teacher, staff member, and first responder who cared for, comforted, and protected children from harm, often at risk to themselves. We will do everything in our power to assist and support the healing and recovery of Newtown."

The day after the shootings, Adam Lanza's father released a statement:

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired."

Leaders from many countries and organizations throughout the world also offered their condolences through the weekend after the shooting. Movie premieres were cancelled or scaled down following the shootings, including Quentin Tarantino's film Django Unchained.

Because of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005, the maker of the weapon used in the shootings cannot be sued for negligence, as occurred after the 2002 Beltway sniper shootings.

Leaders from many countries and organizations throughout the world also offered their condolences through the weekend after the shooting.

Gun control

In his speech at the December 16 vigil, Obama called for using "whatever power this office holds", to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Within 15 hours of the incident, 100,000 Americans signed a petition at the Obama administration's We the People petitioning website in support of a renewed national debate on gun control. President Obama later affirmed that he would make gun control a "central issue" at the start of his second term of office, in a speech on December 19; signing 23 executive orders and proposing 12 congressional actions regarding gun control, one month after the shooting.

The President formed a Gun Violence Task Force to be led by Vice President Joe Biden to address the causes of gun violence in the United States. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joe Lieberman called for an assault weapon ban, with Feinstein intending to introduce a ban bill on the first day of the new Congress, while former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and injured in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, has launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to raise money for further gun control efforts in light of the Sandy Hook shooting. Fear of future restrictions on firearms led to a spike in sales of guns, ammunition, and magazines in the weeks following the shooting.

On December 21, 2012, the National Rifle Association called on the United States Congress to appropriate funds for the hiring of armed police officers in every American school to protect students. The NRA also announced the creation of a school protection program called the National School Shield Program, which would be led by former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrator and United States Congressman Asa Hutchinson.

A month after the shooting, President Obama cited the incident while announcing proposals for increased gun control. His proposals included universal background checks on firearms purchases, an assault weapons ban, and limiting magazine capacity to 10 cartridges. Relatives of the victims in the shooting and survivors from other mass shootings were official guests during the announcement.

On January 17, 2013, the Utah Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter to President Obama criticizing attempts "to demonize firearms". In the letter, they suggested that they would refuse to uphold federal laws that restricted the Second Amendment rights of their constituents.

In reaction to anticipated restrictions on firearms, gun permit applications increased dramatically in a multi-state trend that followed the Connecticut school shooting.

On April 17, 2013, the bill that would have seen the restrictions on gun control failed to pass legislation after failing six votes short when four Republicans and Democrats blocked all the proposals stating that "expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools." In a speech the following day, Obama called the failing of the bill "shameful" and stated how the Republicans had "wilfully lied" about the proposal on background checks, while Ted Cruz, a leading opponent of the bill, stated that making a registry is the only way to make the background checks effective.

Impact on the community

The school was closed indefinitely following the shooting, partially because it remained a crime scene. Sandy Hook students returned to school on January 3, 2013, at Chalk Hill Middle School in nearby Monroe at the town's invitation. Chalk Hill is a previously unused facility, refurbished after the shooting, with desks and equipment brought in from Sandy Hook Elementary. The Chalk Hill school has been temporarily renamed "Sandy Hook". The University of Connecticut created a scholarship for the surviving children of the shootings.

On January 31, 2013, the Newtown school board voted unanimously to ask for police officer presence in all of its elementary schools; previously other schools in the district had such protection, but Sandy Hook had not been one of those.

After the town clerk's office was inundated with requests from the media, Connecticut House of Representatives Republican Dan Carter introduced legislation that would restrict access to public information available under the Freedom of Information Act.

Victims

Perpetrator's mother

  • Nancy Lanza, 52 (shot at home)

School staff

  • Rachel D'Avino, 29, teacher's aide

  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47, principal

  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52, teacher's aide

  • Lauren Rousseau, 30, teacher

  • Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist

  • Victoria Leigh Soto, 27, teacher

Students

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6

  • Daniel Barden, 7

  • Olivia Engel, 6

  • Josephine Gay, 7

  • Dylan Hockley, 6

  • Madeleine Hsu, 6

  • Catherine Hubbard, 6

  • Chase Kowalski, 7

  • Jesse Lewis, 6

  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

  • James Mattioli, 6

  • Grace McDonnell, 7

  • Emilie Parker, 6

  • Jack Pinto, 6

  • Noah Pozner, 6

  • Caroline Previdi, 6

  • Jessica Rekos, 6

  • Avielle Richman, 6

  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6

  • Allison Wyatt, 6

Perpetrator

  • Adam Lanza, 20 (suicide)

Wikipedia.org
 
 


 

Connecticut school shooting: the troubled life of Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza

The boy who would grow up to be America's deadliest school gunman stood out sharply during his own days in the classroom

By Jon Swaine, Newtown, Connecticut, and Raf Sanchez - Telegraph.co.uk

December 16, 2012

Adam Lanza, who was 20, is believed by investigators to have attended Sandy Hook Elementary, the site of his massacre on Friday, before being removed and partially home-schooled by his mother.

The decision to take him out of class was one of many taken by his affluent parents as they struggled to find ways to support their troubled son.

Following their divorce, Lanza lived at his mother's colonial-style mansion, where he had two of the house's four bedrooms – one for himself and the other for the computer where he played violent video games.

Friends recalled an intensely shy but highly intelligent classmate, who wore oversized formal shirts with pens in their top pockets while others chose the youthful casual-wear typical of US schools.

"He was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths," Catherine Urso, the mother of one of Lanza's classmates, told reporters, referring to the "gothic" subculture centring on dark rock music.

"I understand that it wasn't that Nancy was overwrought about the trivialities of everyday life, but that she was handling a very difficult situation with uncommon grace," he wrote.

A landscaper who worked on the garden of Mrs Lanza's sprawling home said she always emerged from a side door after he rang the front doorbell, and never let him come inside.

Her brother James Champion, a police officer in New Hampshire, said in a statement: "We reach out to the community of Newtown to express our heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible loss of innocence that has affected so many."

Mrs Lanza was already dead by the time American television networks began incorrectly to identify her elder son, Ryan, as the gunman responsible for the killing.

The 24-year-old was in fact 80 miles away in Manhattan, when he saw news of the killings flash across the office television. He told colleagues at Ernst & Young, the accountancy firm, that he needed to leave.

Friends, who described him as a kind and gentle young man, were already baffled. "I couldn't imagine Ryan doing such a thing," said Marsha Lanza, his aunt, who saw the early reports. "He has it together."

Making his way back to his flat in Hoboken, in neighbouring New Jersey, Ryan Lanza took to Facebook to protest his innocence. "It wasn't me I was at work it wasn't me," he wrote.

Soon 14,000 messages appeared on his page, many accusing him of the killings. Then, a tabloid confirmed police had named the wrong brother, possibly because Adam Lanza was carrying Ryan Lanza's identification.

Nonetheless, burly New Jersey police officers soon led the small, bespectacled brother away from his home in handcuffs, in front of television cameras.

He spent the next several hours talking to the FBI, reportedly describing Lanza's learning disabilities and how he had not seen his brother since 2010. Authorities described him as "extremely co-operative" and said he was not being treated as a suspect.

Ryan Lanza appeared to have had the relatively normal life of a young professional. He joined Ernst & Young after graduating from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Despite not seeing his brother, he apparently remained close to his mother. His Facebook page showed he had recently been in Newtown, and he reportedly travelled to New Orleans with her for a concert.

Unlike his son Ryan Lanza, Peter Lanza apparently made no connection between the news on television and his own family and so was surprised to see a woman lingering on his front step when he arrived home from work in his Mini Cooper.

Rolling down his window, the reporter explained she was there because his son was suspected of massacring a class of children. His face twisted from "patient, to surprise, to horror," she said.

Mr Lanza, 54, has since been trying to answer the unanswerable: how his son, whom he raised in the comfort and affluence of leafy New England, could commit such a crime.

"We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can," the corporate tax executive said in a statement. "We, too, are asking why." Mr and Mrs Lanza married in 1981 in their native New Hampshire, where their sons were born in 1988 and 1992. They moved to Connecticut in 1998. Mr Lanza joined General Electric and is believed to be paid about $1 million (£600,000) a year.

Though their marriage broke down in 2008, the couple were united in their determination to care for Adam Lanza, their troubled younger son.

Mr Lanza agreed to pay around $250,000 (£150,000) a year in child maintenance payments – more than his lawyers advised – in return for joint custody of Lanza and generous visiting rights.

The Republican businessman, who was described as a decent man by colleagues, moved an hour's drive away to Stamford, where he married Shelley Cudiner, a librarian at the University of Connecticut.

"Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy," he said. "No words can truly express how heartbroken we are."

 
 

Newtown Killer’s Obsessions, in Chilling Detail

By N. R. Kleinfield, Ray Rivera and Serge F. Kovaleski - The New York Times

March 28, 2013

Inside the rambling, pale-yellow Colonial-style home in a Connecticut suburb, Adam Lanza lived amid a stockpile of disparate weaponry and macabre keepsakes: several firearms, more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition, 11 knives, a starter pistol, a bayonet, 3 samurai swords. He saved photographs of what appeared to be a corpse smeared in blood and covered in plastic, as well as a newspaper clipping that chronicled a vicious shooting at Northern Illinois University.

A gun safe was in what investigators believed was his bedroom. Among his clothing was a military-style uniform. There was also a holiday card that contained a check made out to Mr. Lanza, 20, and signed by his mother. Investigators suggested that the money had been intended to buy a gun.

The disturbing details of Mr. Lanza’s possessions were disclosed on Thursday for the first time since he carried out the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation’s history. The information was included in search warrants and related affidavits connected to the investigation into the Dec. 14 attack, when he killed 20 first graders, 6 educators, his mother and himself.

The inventory of the house, combined with interviews conducted over several weeks with law-enforcement officials and people who crossed paths with the Lanza family, afford a somewhat fuller picture of the dark corners of Mr. Lanza’s mind.

The interviews revealed that his mother, Nancy Lanza, confided to friends several years ago that her son, who classmates said had been found to have a type of autism, was faring poorly and being bullied in high school. More recently, he had cocooned himself in front of electronic game consoles in the basement of their home, playing warfare games.

The contents of the Lanza house are of intense interest because the lives of the family have been picked apart since the shootings, often yielding little insight. A clear understanding of Adam Lanza’s thinking and the texture of his relationship with his mother and others has yet to emerge. What pushed him to his brutality may never be discovered.

After killing his mother at their home on the morning of Dec. 14, Mr. Lanza drove to the grade school that he once attended and carried out the massacre in less than five minutes, according to the search warrant.

The rampage brought the nation and the world to tears and touched off a continuing national debate over gun control.

Stephen J. Sedensky III, the state’s attorney who is in charge of the investigation, said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Lanza shot his mother in the forehead with a .22-caliber rifle while she was in bed in her second-story bedroom.

At the school, he used a Bushmaster XM15-E2S semiautomatic rifle to fire 154 shots, the statement said. The police also found 10 30-round magazines for the gun, many of them partly or fully emptied.

Mr. Lanza also carried two semiautomatic handguns, one of which he used to kill himself. The police found a 12-gauge shotgun in the car he drove to the school.

The inventories attached to the warrants delineated pertinent items found by police in the home that Mr. Lanza shared with his mother, a two-story house with dark green shutters at 36 Yogananda Street in Newtown. Ms. Lanza was a gun enthusiast who often took her son to shooting ranges. She was divorced from his father, Peter Lanza, a General Electric executive.

The items included more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition bullets, some of them housed in a Planters peanut can and a Nike shoe box, and an array of weapons found in a brown safe and in bedroom closets. The lists mention four guns, including the shotgun found in the black Honda Civic that Mr. Lanza drove to Sandy Hook, and 70 shotgun shells found in the car. There were two rifles, including the one used to kill Nancy Lanza, as well as a BB gun and a starter pistol.

The police also found a certificate from the National Rifle Association bearing the name Adam Lanza. The type of certificate was not clear. The organization said on Thursday that Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza were not members.

There was also a receipt from a shooting range in Oklahoma, an N.R.A. guide to the basics of pistol shooting and training manuals on the use of a variety of firearms, including a Bushmaster.

There were paper and cardboard gun targets, as well as a considerable amount of computer equipment and game consoles and equipment. There was a hard drive that appeared to have been deliberately smashed.

There were numerous books connected to autism. One was titled, “Born on a Blue Day — Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant.”

Classmates of Mr. Lanza and others who knew the family have said he had an autism variant known as Asperger’s syndrome, though investigators have never confirmed that diagnosis. Even so, his association with the disorder has raised alarms among parents of children with the diagnosis, who have expressed concerns that the public might believe that those with autism are prone to violence.

Experts say people with autism spectrum disorders are often bullied in school and the workplace and frequently suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. But the experts also say there is no evidence that they are more inclined than any other group to commit violent crimes.

Though Mr. Lanza’s life remains mostly opaque, interviews in recent weeks show that he was a socially fragile individual captivated by warfare video games and bent on military service.

Marvin LaFontaine, 53, a mechanical engineer who considered himself a friend of Nancy Lanza from Kingston, N.H., where Ms. Lanza grew up, kept in touch with her chiefly by e-mail, Facebook and phone until 2010. He remembered that Adam Lanza deeply admired one of his mother’s brothers, a retired Kingston police officer named James Champion. Mr. LaFontaine said Mr. Lanza was keen on joining the military, as his uncle, Mr. Champion, had done.

“This all started when Adam was 3 or 4, and became more ingrained as Adam got older and ultimately decided that he wanted to become a Marine,” Mr. LaFontaine said.

Classmates said Mr. Lanza was smart but acutely shy, and was not known to have close friends. His mother frequently moved him in and out of school, and at times home-schooled him. Several years ago, when Mr. Lanza was in high school, Mr. LaFontaine said Ms. Lanza shared with him that “the problems with Adam were getting worse and that he was getting picked on and bullied and was starting to shut down.”

A Newtown rabbi who counseled the families of victims of the shooting said former classmates of Mr. Lanza had told him that Mr. Lanza was sometimes the object of ridicule in high school. Other classmates have said they did not recall instances of his being bullied.

Mr. LaFontaine said Ms. Lanza had been weighing a number of options, which included once again removing him from school, which she later did. Mr. Lanza left Newtown High School after 10th grade. For a time, he attended college.

Despite his issues, Mr. LaFontaine recalled, “Nancy was generally confident that he could beat this and grow up into a normal, confident man, and that she could help him to do that.”

He shared an e-mail in which she described how much she enjoyed living in Newtown, which is about 75 miles northeast of Times Square.

“People are so nice here,” she wrote. “I feel very lucky to have found a place where there is such a feeling of community.”

While the documents show that Mr. Lanza readily had access to weapons, a fact that was already known, by themselves they do not shed light on his motives, said Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University who has written several books on mass murders.

But in many school shootings, the killers were often bullied or ostracized by their classmates, “and the motive is revenge,” Mr. Levin said in a telephone interview.

And Mr. Lanza did have other traits in common with school gunmen, including social isolation and access to weapons and firearms training, Mr. Levin said. The clipping on the Northern Illinois shooting, Mr. Levin said, indicates that, like some mass murderers, he might have been inspired by past shootings.

Adam Lanza had cut off contact with his father and his older brother, Ryan Lanza, in recent years, according to various accounts.

David Burton, a former co-worker of Peter Lanza’s at General Electric who is now a lawyer in private practice, said Peter Lanza spoke rarely about Adam Lanza’s challenges.

Still, Mr. Burton recalled being at a Christmas party in 2010 or 2011 at which Peter Lanza’s eyes lit up upon learning that Mr. Burton’s wife was an educational consultant.

Peter Lanza peppered her with questions, Mr. Burton said.

“When Peter learned of her expertise, he brought up Adam to her, and was clearly looking for an educational solution for Adam,” Mr. Burton said. “She mentioned some boarding school options. It’s one of those things you look back and say we should’ve done more there. But then everybody gets busy and it doesn’t happen.”

Two law-enforcement officials who were initially involved in the investigation said in recent interviews that the Newtown police had never been called to the Lanza home for any disturbances, and that before the shootings the family was basically unknown to the authorities.

They said they believed that Mr. Lanza had spent most of his time in the basement of the home, primarily playing a warfare video game, “Call of Duty.” According to these officials, it also appeared that Mr. Lanza may have taken target practice in the basement.

In the documents released on Thursday, prosecutors redacted the names of witnesses interviewed by the police, but shared some of what they said.

The day of the shooting, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed a person who said Mr. Lanza rarely left his home. The witness considered Mr. Lanza to be a “shut-in and an avid gamer who plays ‘Call of Duty,’ amongst other games,” according to a law-enforcement affidavit accompanying the warrants. It also said the witness told agents “that school was Adam’s ‘life,’ ” referring to Sandy Hook Elementary School, which Adam Lanza had attended.

Additional material turned up in the searches might contain clues into Mr. Lanza’s thoughts in the days and weeks before the massacre, but their contents were not divulged. Police officers found seven journals written by Mr. Lanza, along with several of his drawings. The drawings were not described.

Beside three photographs of what appears to be a corpse, there was an article from The New York Times in February 2008, about a shooting at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. In that shooting, Steven Kazmierczak killed 5 people and injured 21 on Valentine’s Day before he killed himself.

Whatever problems Adam Lanza may have had, the documents indicate that Nancy Lanza was comfortable with his being around guns.

The holiday card to Mr. Lanza from his mother contained a check that specified that the money was to buy a “C183 (Firearm),” the documents say.

The date and amount of the check are not listed. It was not clear if the reference to C183 contained a typographical error and was intended to mean a CZ83, which is a semiautomatic handgun.

The Hartford Courant previously reported that investigators had found news articles about the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik in a bedroom of Mr. Lanza’s. Mr. Breivik killed 77 people in two attacks in July 2011, most of them teenagers who were attending a summer camp.

Those articles were not mentioned in the documents released on Thursday.

The searches did turn up medical records, which are not identified, as well as some of Mr. Lanza’s school records.

Among the records was a report card for Adam Lanza from many years ago.

It was issued by Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Reporting was contributed by David M. Halbfinger, Sharon LaFraniere, Marc Santora and Nate Schweber. Lisa Schwartz and Jack Styczynski contributed research.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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