Connecticut shooting suspect was honors student

By Pete Yost

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Dec. 14 2012 10:47 p.m. MST

A sign for a Healing Prayer stands outside St. John's Episcopal Church near the scene of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A man opened fire Friday inside two classrooms at the school where his mother worked as a teacher, killing 26 people, including 20 children. The killer, armed with two handguns, committed suicide at the school and another person was found dead at a second scene, bringing the toll to 28, authorities said. A law enforcement official identified the gunman as 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

Jessica Hill, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — He was an honors student who lived in a prosperous neighborhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for the holidays.

Now Adam Lanza is suspected of killing his mother and then gunning down more than two dozen people, 20 of them children, at a Connecticut grade school before taking his own life.

The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.

Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have any involvement in the rampage.

Lanza killed his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and — armed with at least two handguns — carried out the massacre, officials said.

A third weapon, a .223-caliber rifle, was found in the car, and more guns were recovered during the investigation.

So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. They found no note or manifesto, and Lanza had no criminal history.

Witnesses said the shooter didn't utter a word.

Lanza's aunt 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, of Crystal Lake, Ill., said she was close with Adam Lanza's mother and sent her a Facebook message Friday morning asking how she was doing. Nancy Lanza never responded.

Marsha Lanza described Nancy Lanza as a good mother and kind-hearted.

If her son had needed counseling, "Nancy wasn't one to deny reality," she told The Associated Press late Friday.

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 Friday evening in Newtown, Conn., 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 a technology club at Newtown High School that held "LAN parties" — short for local area network — in which students would gather at a member's home, hook up their computers into a small network and play games.

Gloria Milas, whose son Joshua was in the club with Lanza, hosted one of the parties once.

She recalled a school meeting in 2008 organized by the gunman's mother to try to save the job of the club's adviser. At the meeting, Milas said, Adam Lanza's brother Ryan said a few words in support of the adviser, who he said had taken his brother under his wing.

"My brother has always been a nerd," Ryan Lanza said then, according to Milas. "He still wears a pocket protector."

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

"We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart," Joshua Milas said. "He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius."

Lanza and his mother, Nancy, lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown, a prosperous community of 27,000 people about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

A grandmother of the suspect — who is also the mother of Nancy Lanza — was too distraught to speak when reached by phone at her home in Brooksville, Fla.

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