NEWTOWN, Conn. — As the nation paused to mark a week since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, new details emerged Friday about the gunman, Adam Lanza, who acquaintances said was able to take apart and reassemble a computer in a matter of minutes but rarely spoke to anyone.
In high school, Lanza used to slither through the hallways, awkwardly pressing himself against the wall while wearing the same green shirt and khaki pants every day. He hardly ever talked to classmates and once gave a presentation entirely by computer, never uttering a single word.
"As long as I knew him, he never really spoke," said Daniel Frost, who took a computer class with Lanza and remembered his skill with electronics.
Lanza seemed to spend most of his time in his own large space in the basement of the home he shared with his mother — the same basement where she kept a collection of guns, said Russell Ford, a friend of Nancy Lanza's who had done chimney and pipe work on the house.
A week ago, Lanza fatally shot his mother before blasting his way into the school, killing 20 children and six teachers with a military style rifle. As police approached, he used a handgun to commit suicide.
Nancy Lanza was often seen around town and regularly chatted up friends and acquaintances at a local restaurant, but her 20-year-old son was a mysterious figure who was seldom spotted in this community of rolling hills and clapboard colonial homes, according to Ford and other townspeople.
The basement of the Lanza home was fully carpeted and had artwork, including a picture of a horse, on the walls. There was a computer, a flat-screen television, couches and an elaborate setup for video games. Nancy Lanza kept her guns in what appeared to be a secure case in another part of the basement, Ford said.
"She was from gun culture. Live free or die. That was truly her upbringing," said Ford, who often met the New Hampshire native and other friends at a regular Tuesday gathering at My Place, a local restaurant.
Ford did not know if Lanza brought her son shooting.
Over the past year and a half, Ford said, Nancy Lanza had told him that she planned to move out West and enroll Adam in a "school or a center." The plan started unfolding after Adam turned 18.
"He wouldn't be dwelling with her," said Ford, who remembered that Adam Lanza never spoke to him or even made eye contact.
"She knew she needed to be near him," he added. "She was trying to do what was positive for him."
Ford said Nancy Lanza didn't elaborate on what type of services she wanted her son to receive. He hadn't seen her in about a month and a half, and said she made fewer appearances at the restaurant in recent months.
Mark Tambascio, owner of My Place, said Nancy Lanza described the same plan to him, saying she might move to Washington State.
Back in high school, Frost recalled, Lanza once made a class presentation about how to change the folders in Microsoft Windows different colors. He did it without saying a word, just demonstrating the steps on a screen.
Someone in the class brought in a video game called "Counter-Strike," a first-person shooting video game in which players compete against each other as either terrorists or counter-terrorists, Frost said.
Lanza "seemed pretty interested in the game," Frost recalled, and would play it with other students. He remembers the weapons Lanza chose: an M4 military-style assault rifle and a Glock handgun.
During the rampage at the school, Lanza used a military-style assault rifle and carried handguns, authorities said.
A week after the massacre, authorities still have no clear reason why Lanza would lash out at defenseless first-graders and their caretakers.
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