NEW details about the gunman who shot dead 20 children, six teachers and his mother before turning the gun on himself in a primary school in Connecticut last week emerged yesterday as three more of those killed were laid to rest.
High school classmates recalled that Adam Lanza, who carried out the massacre earlier this month, was the awkward kid who wore the same clothes to school every day and had few friends. He rarely spoke and even gave a school presentation entirely by computer, never uttering a word.
He liked tinkering with computers and other gadgets and seemed to enjoy playing a violent video game, choosing a military-style assault rifle as one of his weapons. He also apparently did not like to be physically touched.
Lanza fatally shot his mother on Friday 14 December before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he slaughtered 20 children and six adults before killing himself.
In Newtown High School, Lanza would walk through the hallways, awkwardly pressing himself against the wall while wearing the same green shirt and khaki trousers every day. He hardly ever talked to his classmates and was known throughout the school only as a loner.
“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 could take apart and reassemble a computer in a matter of minutes.
Lanza seemed to spend most of his time in the basement of the home he shared with his mother, Nancy, who kept a collection of guns there, said Russell Ford, who had done chimney and pipe work on the house.
Nancy Lanza was often seen around town and regularly met friends at a local restaurant. But her 20-year-old son was seldom spotted around Newtown, according to a number of townspeople who knew the family.
The basement of the Lanza home had a computer, flat-screen TV, 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, said Ford, who often met her and other friends at a regular Tuesday gathering at My Place, a restaurant.
During the past year and a half, Ford said, Nancy Lanza had told him that she planned to move out West and enrol Adam in a “school or a centre”. The plan started unfolding after Adam turned 18.
“She knew she needed to be near him,” Ford said. “She was trying to do what was positive for him.”
Ford said Nancy Lanza did not elaborate on what type of services she wanted her son to receive. He 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, someone brought in a video game called Counter-Strike, a shooting video game in which players compete against each other as either terrorists or counter-terrorists.
Lanza “seemed pretty interested in the game” and would play it with other students. Frost remembers the weapons Lanza chose: an M4 military-style assault rifle and a Glock handgun.
Authorities said Lanza used a military-style assault rifle and carried handguns during the rampage at the school. They still have no clear reason why Lanza would lash out at defenceless young children and their caretakers and cause such devastation within the small community, which remains shattered at the killings.
State police spokesman Lt J Paul Vance said a final report on the investigation could be months away.
A moment of silence was held on Friday in remembrance of those killed. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy gathered with officials in rain and wind on the steps of the Edmond Town Hall as a lone bell rang in memory of those who lost their lives. Similar commemorations took place across the United States.
Also on Friday, the National Rifle Association called for armed police officers to be stationed at schools. Wayne La-Pierre, chief executive officer of the nation’s largest gun-rights lobbing group, said at a Washington news conference that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
LaPierre blamed video games, music and videos for exposing children to violence.
Meanwhile, the founder of a video game website said he expected tens of thousands of players of online shooter games to have participated in a 24-hour ceasefire which started on Friday. Antwand Pearman, founder of GamerFitNation, said the ceasefire was meant to show respect for those killed in the Newtown shooting. He said video games do not cause violence.
Yesterday more funeral services were held in Connecticut for the victims, including Josephine Gay, seven, and Ana Marquez-Greene, six. A service was also planned in Utah for Emilie Parker, six. All of Lanza’s child victims were six or seven years old, and the funerals have become a tragically familiar sight in the town over the past week.
A spokeswoman for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association says the last victim funerals it knows of took place yesterday, although some of the burials are private.