Saturday, April 21, 2018

A week after school massacre, new details emerge about Adam Lanza

NEWTOWN, Conn. — As the nation paused to mark a week since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, more 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 would awkwardly press himself against the walls of hallways 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.

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, according to Ford and other townspeople.

The basement of the Lanza home was fully carpeted and had artwork on the walls. There were 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.

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.

Back in high school, Frost recalled, someone in the class brought in a video game called Counter-Strike, in which players compete against each other as either terrorists or counterterrorists, 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.

Lanza destroyed the hard drive of his computer before the attack, and investigators have been unable to retrieve any information from it, a person briefed on the case said.

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