Crazed killer Adam Lanza was a ‘ticking time bomb’ who suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and was painfully shy and awkward, former classmates said yesterday.
Last night, a troubling portrait began to emerge of the ‘Goth’ loner, who dressed all in black and was obsessed with video games.
Others say Lanza used to be a mild-mannered student in high school, making the honor roll, and living with his mother, Nancy Lanza, who in turn loved playing dice games and decorating their upscale home for the holidays.
Nancy Lanza’s home in Newtown, Connecticut, was raided after 2 pm Friday and she was found shot dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the face
The 20-year-old – who shot dead 27 people in America’s worst-ever school killing – began his rampage by shooting his mother in the face at the family’s $1.6 million home in Newtown, Connecticut, dubbed America’s ‘safest town’.
He then then took three of her guns and drove her black Honda Civic to Sandy Hook Elementary School around 9.30am, where he killed 20 young children and six adults before shooting himself in the head.
Lanza used two semi-automatic pistols, a Glock and Sig Sauer, and reportedly wiped out an entire classroom of young children, then shot several in a second class before taking his own life.
While an official has said that the 20-year-old gunman in the Connecticut school shooting had Asperger’s syndrome, experts say there is no connection between the disorder and violence.
Asperger’s is a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness.
“There really is no clear association between Asperger’s and violent behavior,” said psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Witnesses say Lanza was going from room to room shooting people, after first killing the principal Dawn Hochsprung and the school psychologist Mary Sherlach execution-style when they confronted him in the hallway.
Former classmate Olivia DeVivo said she remembered Lanza talking about ‘blowing things up’, but added: ‘I put that down to the usual talk of boys. I think he went so unnoticed people didn’t stop to think, “There’s something going on here – maybe he needs some kind of help?”
‘No one is surprised. He always seemed like he was someone who was capable of that because he didn’t really connect with our high school, with our town.’
Another former school friend, Jamie Crespo, 19, said: ‘He used to hang with the freaks, guys who dressed in trench coats.’
Other students remember him walking through school dressed in black, carrying a black briefcase.
Newtown High School’s 2010 class president Ben Federman is like the rest of his classmates – he can barely remember Adam Lanza.
Mr Federman, who was home from attending college at Vanderbilt University, told MailOnline that he had heard from many graduates from the class of 2010 and none of them can think of a single friend Lanza had.
‘The only time I ever saw him was in the hallway and he never seemed to engage anyone. He was just focused on walking from one class to another,’ Mr Federman said.
His only memory of the 20–year-old Lanza was the bizarre way he dressed – always in button-down shirts that were too big for him. He also usually had pens in his shirt pocket and usually carried a black leather briefcase.
‘You noticed that because it was different. He carried a briefcase and not a backpack,’ Mr Federman said.
Lanza appears to have enjoyed a normal childhood, attending Sandy Hook Elementary and then Newtown High School, in the affluent town 60 miles from New York.
He graduated high school in 2010 and refused to pose for the traditional high school yearbook picture – a rite of passage in America. Instead, a note on the page under his name states: ‘Camera shy.’
In 2007, when he was a freshman, he was pictured along with ten of his classmates for a group photo of the ‘Tech Club,’ which ‘allowed students to explore technology and promote events’ on student TV.
In two yearbooks from his time in high school – he wasn’t even listed in one and his name appeared under ‘not pictured’ in another.
Richard Novia, the school district’s head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, said Lanza clearly ‘had some disabilities.
‘If that boy would’ve burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically,” Novia told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It was my job to pay close attention to that.’
Mr Novia described Lanza as ‘a very scared young boy, who was very nervous around people he could trust or he refused to speak with,’ Novia said.
‘Somewhere along in the last four years, there were significant changes that led to what has happened,’ Novia said. ‘I could never have foreseen him doing that.’
Yesterday reports claimed he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism where sufferers experience difficulties with communication and social skills, which can lead to isolation and emotional problems.
Neighbor Justin Germak, 17, said he knew Lanza ‘had a condition’. ‘You definitely noticed it. He was needy. He struggled to be social.’
‘Everyone just assumed he was a smart kid and that’s why he didn’t like talking to people all the time,’ Peter Lalli, 20, who graduated with Lanza in 2010, told the New York Daily News. ‘He hung out with the smart crowd.’
Another former classmate said Adam has been ‘a weird kid since we were five years old.’
Tim Dalton wrote on Twitter: ‘As horrible as this was, I can’t say I am surprised…’
Family friends said Lanza’s problems started to escalate when his parents divorced in 2008 after 18 years together.
His father Peter, a wealthy executive for General Electric, who is believed to earn $1 million a year, moved out of the family home in 2006, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’.
The 52-year-old married librarian Shelley Cudiner last year, and the couple moved 40 miles away to Stamford, Connecticut..
However, he continued to provide well for Nancy and their younger son, giving her the family home as well as nearly $325,000 a year.
One of Lanza’s former classmates spoke of his ‘noticeable decline’ after his parents’ divorce. ‘He was a loner at school and hyper intelligent,’ he said. ‘But in recent years he disappeared off the radar.
‘The word is that he was badly affected when his parents split and that might be what pushed him over the edge.
‘He was always weird but the divorce affected him. He was arguing with his mother. He was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.’
A relative to the family said that Adam Lanza was ‘obviously not well,’ adding that he often seemed troubled. They described Nancy as being rigid and at times, overbearing.
Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping firm who worked on the family’s home, said she was an avid gun collector: ‘She told me she would go target shooting with her kids.’
Sources close to the investigation also revealed last night that Nancy had recently stopped hosting monthly get-togethers for neighbors in order to look after her increasingly troubled son.
The 50-year-old is thought to have worked as a supply teacher at the elementary school where the shootings took place.
Last night it also emerged Nancy was a member of the Doomsday Preppers movement, which believes people should prepare for end of the world.
Her former sister-in-law Marsha said she had turned her home ‘into a fortress’. She added: ‘Nancy had a survivalist philosophy which is why she was stockpiling guns. She had them for defense.
‘She was stockpiling food. She grew up on a farm in New Hampshire. She was skilled with guns. We talked about preppers and preparing for the economy collapsing.’
Marsha added that her nephew had been raised by ‘kind, nurturing’ parents’. She said she last seen Adam in June but recalled nothing appeared out of the ordinary.
‘Nancy was a good mother, kind-hearted,’ she added. ‘She wasn’t one to deny reality. She would have sought psychiatric help for her son had she felt he needed it.’
Map of area surrounding Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed at least 26 people, 20 of them small children
Lanza’s aunt, Marsha Lanza, said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.
The Crystal Lake, Illinois resident told the Associated Press 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 said.
Marsha Lanza said her husband saw Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary about him.
One neighbor told MailOnline that her daughters had visited the house while trick or treating on Halloween, and that an older woman answered the door.
A man several houses down, who said he was friends with the couple, declined to give his name, saying only that they are ‘great people’ and ‘my heart bleeds for them.’
Pia Conte, 47, who lives in the neighborhood and has two sons in their 20s, said Lanza and his girlfriend kept to themselves.
Ms Conte called the ordeal ‘sad’ for Lanza and his family, and suggested that the violence is a portion of a much larger situation.
‘Guns are easy to point to, but it’s really a mental health issue.’
Catherine Urso, who was attending a vigil 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.
Still, several local news clippings from recent years mention Adam Lanza’s name among Newtown High School’s honor roll students.
He 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.’
Ryan Lanza, brother of Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting suspect Adam Lanza, is seen being led away by cops, left, and in photos pulled from his Facebook page, right
Ryan, 24, who was originally thought to have been the shooter, was being questioned by police after he was arrested at his home in Hoboken, New Jersey.
He was on a bus on his way home from work when he was being named as the gunman and posted on Facebook that it wasn’t him.
Ryan Lanza had been extremely cooperative and was not under arrest or in custody by Saturday morning, but investigators were still searching his computers and phone records. He told law enforcement 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 Friday asking what was going on and if he was OK. According to Wilshe, Lanza’s reply was something along the lines of: ‘It was my brother. I think my mother is dead. Oh my God.’
Adam Lanza shot his mother at her home before driving in her car to the elementary school and shooting dead 26 people before turning the gun on himself
Sandy Hook Elementary School is in Newtown, Connecticut, where Nancy Lanza lived. Son Ryan lives in Hoboken, New Jersey
‘IT’S TIME FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION’ SAYS MAYOR BLOOMBERG
‘We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again.
For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year-olds.
President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem.
Calling for “meaningful action” is not enough. We need immediate action.’
Peter Lanza declined to comment after police performed a welfare check on him.
Mr Lanza learned of the tragic and senseless massacre by reporters who had flocked to his home.
He arrived shortly after police left and asked what the problem was.
The Stamford Advocate said his expression shifted from patient to surprise to horror.
Newtown was once named one of the safest places to live in America and before this morning, there had been one murder in a decade.
After the names of the murdered children were released publicly, the families of the victims – along with their friends and neighbors – closed ranks while they mourned.
Authorities asked reporters not to approach the grieving families.
Connecticut state troopers were posted outside many of their homes. Throughout Sandy Hook and Newyown, squad cars idling in driveways or on the streets in front of house became a sure sign that the inhabitants inside were mourning a terrible loss.
The President addressed a stunned nation five hours after the shooting and openly wept as he spoke of the mindless shooting saying: ‘Our hearts are broken today.’
Speaking inside the St Rose of Lima church in Newtown tonight, Governor of Connecticut Dan Malloy said: ‘In the coming days and in the coming weeks, I will pray that you all embrace one another that you lift one another up, that you understand the difficulties that you collectively will undergo.
‘Keep in your prayers the children who lost their lives today, keep in your prayers the adults who lost their lives today.’
Families grieve, left, and a man carries a child away from the area of a shooting at the elementary school, right