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The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“I just don’t know, and I can’t make a comment right now,” Dorothy Hanson, 78, said in a shaky voice as she started to cry. She said she hadn’t heard anything official about her daughter and grandsons. She declined to comment further and hung up.
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to the place.
At least one parent said Lanza’s mother was a substitute teacher there. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the law enforcement official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.
Adam Lanza’s older brother, now 24 and living in Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned, a law enforcement official said. He told authorities that his brother was believed to suffer from a personality disorder, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the unfolding investigation.
The official did not elaborate, and it was unclear exactly what type of disorder he might have had.
Ryan Lanza had been extremely cooperative and was not under arrest or in custody, but investigators were still searching his computers and phone records. Ryan Lanza 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 attended Newtown High School, and several local news clippings from recent years mention his name among the school’s honour roll students.
Lanza’s parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Conn., according to public records, and he reportedly works as a tax director for General Electric.
“She was a very nice lady,” Cullens said. “She was just like all the rest of us in the neighbourhood, just a regular person.”
Sandeep Kapur, who lives two doors down from the Lanza family in Newtown, said he did not know them and was unaware of any disturbances at the Lanza house in the three years that he and his family have been in the neighbourhood.
He described the area as a subdivision of well-tended, 15-year-old homes on lots of an acre or more, where many people work at companies like General Electric, Pepsi and IBM. Some are doctors, and his next-door neighbour is a bank CEO, said Kapur, a project manager at an information technology firm.
Keyser reported from Chicago.