Police Release Identity of Gunman in Sandy Hook Shooting; Mother as Final Victim

As police release more information about Friday's tragic elementary school shooting, family members, neighbors and former acquaintances speak about knowing the suspected gunman and his mother.

Police identified the shooter Sunday in the gruesome murder of 26 individuals at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday, 20 of whom were children, as 20-year-old Adam Lanza of Newtown.

Police also released the name of another victim, Lanza’s mother Nancy, who was discovered at the Yogananda Street home where the two lived.

Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance told reporters at a Sunday afternoon press conference that Nancy Lanza died of multple gunshot wounds and her death is being ruled as a homicide. Adam Lanza died of a gunshot wound and his death is being ruled as a suicide, Vance said.

Vance told reporters that the weapon used "most of the time" by the shooter was a Bushmaster AR-15 assault-type weapon with high capacity magazines. A Glock 10 millimeter and a Sig Sauer 9 millimeter, all of which had "multiple magazines and additional ammunition," was also in the shooter's possession.

Vance said that a rifle was also recovered from Lanza's vehicle, which was parked outside of the school.

As details of the tragic incident slowly emerge, Newtown residents and people around the world are wondering what kind of person could have carried out such a horrendous act and how a seemingly intelligent, quiet young man could commit such evil.

Lanza is said to have shot and killed his mother before entering the school at about 9:30 a.m. Friday, fatally shooting 26 people and then himself. Multiple media outlets have reported the three guns carried into the school by the gunman as legally registered to the mother.

Former Yogananda Street neighbor Ryan Kraft, 25, who currently lives in California, said he went to school with Ryan Lanza and babysat Adam a few times when the latter was around 10 years old. Kraft said that Ryan Lanza was usually home during this, allowing for “two sets of eyes on Adam at all times,” he explained.

Kraft said that Adam had a developmental disability of some kind, though he was not sure of the exact nature, and that he would throw temper tantrums at times, which Nancy Lanza instructed Kraft to just let pass. Despite these incidents, Kraft said he the mother “never once informed me of any violent tendencies,” and he never witnessed any violence himself.

Both brothers were quiet and reserved, Kraft said.

“He was the quiet kid at the bus stop,” he said. “I’d say, ‘Hi,’ and he’d say, ‘Hey,’ back and that was the extent of it.”

As a student as Western Connecticut State University in 2008 and 2009, Lanza received As, Bs and Cs in courses ranging from computer programming to macroeconomics to German speaking.

"Adam Lanza was a student for a while at WCSU,” said Paul Steinmetz, interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Sunday. “His overall GPA for the six classes that he completed was 3.26.”

According to Steinmetz, Lanza started classes in the summer of 2008 when he was 16 and took website production (A-) and Visual BASIC (A). In fall of 2008 he took data modeling — a computer science class in which he took a withdraw — and Philosophy 101, introduction to ethical theory (C). In spring of 2009 he took American History Since 1877 (A-) and introduction to German speaking, which he dropped early in the semester so it didn't count against his GPA. In the summer of 2009 he took principles of macroeconomics (B).

Steinmetz said any potential disciplinary records were not immediately available, however there was “no indication that he was ever in trouble here.”

Steinmetz also stated that he does “not believe [Lanza] ever lived in our dorms."

A 'Very Positive Mom'

Former neighbor Ryan Kraft remembered Nancy as a “very positive mom,” who was “focused on getting them [her sons] what they needed and what they wanted.”

Kraft recalled one anecdote from just a day or two after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“A day or two after [Nancy] went to Home Depot, to Lowes — to all the hardware stores in the area — and spent probably $3,000 on gloves and mittens and coats and drove them down to New York,” he said. “She was that kind of person: would do something and act immediately if she could help.”

Kraft confirmed that, to his knowledge, Nancy never worked at Sandy Hook Elementary, though she regularly volunteered in the community and likely at the school at some point.

“She volunteered a lot,” he said. “She was a stay-at-home mom… and she tried to do things locally in her free time.”

Family Left in Shock, Grief

Adam’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, was at his job in Manhattan on Friday when news outlets began to report that he was in fact the shooter.

The reports said Lanza, a Quinnipiac University graduate, had murdered someone in his Hoboken apartment and then drove to Newtown, where he killed 27 people before turning the gun on himself.

Ryan’s thoughts quickly went to his developmentally disabled younger brother, Adam, who he feared may have been responsible for the violence at Sandy Hook elementary school, friends of the elder Lanza said.

As media reports continued to name Ryan Lanza as the shooter and plastered his face across the world, he took to Facebook and told friends he was not the man responsible for the brutal slaying.

Ryan Lanza and his roommate were being questioned Friday night at Hoboken Police headquarters. Neither have been charged with any crime, Hoboken Police Captain Jim Fitzsimmons said.

No bodies were found inside the building, Fitzsimmons said.

"Ryan is in shock," a close friend, Brett Wilshe, told Patch.

Lanza was planning to head to Connecticut after hearing about the shooting, friends told Patch.

Those who know the Hobokenite described him as "nice" and committed to his friends.

Peter Lanza, Adam’s father, released the following statement on Saturday, according to the Huffington Post:

Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.

Marsha Lanza, Adam’s aunt and Nancy’s sister-in-law, lives in Crystal Lake, IL and told the Associated Press Friday that she was close with her sister-in-law. She described Nancy Lanza as "a good mother and kind-hearted" and said she sent her a Facebook message Friday morning, but never heard back.

She told the Northwest Herald late Friday they were in total shock and "shaken to the core."

New Hampshire-based family members of the Lanzas’ expressed their "heartfelt sorrow" in a statement read Saturday evening at a press conference in Kingston, NH. The video of the press conference can be found on WMUR's website.

James Champion, uncle of suspected shooter Adam Lanza and brother to mother Nancy, is a police officer in Kingston.

In the statement read by Rockingham County Sheriff Mike Downing, the Champion family said they "share the grief of a community and nation as we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share."

The family said they wished to "reach out to the community of Newtown and express our heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible and profound loss of innocence that has affected so many."

They also asked for privacy during their "time of anguish and loss."

Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs said he knew Nancy Lanza as a "very, very kind, considerate, loving young lady" who lived in Kingston for a good part of her life. Briggs said Lanza's mother spent many years as a school nurse in Kingston.

Patch reporters Mark Langlois, Claire Moses, James Kleimann, Jake O'Donnell, Amie Schaenzer and Chandra Johnson Greene contributed to this article.

Anthony Paecht December 17, 2012 at 01:01 AM
A person whose name needs to not be spread and remembered. God will sort that out if he is given such mercy.
Angels Among Us December 17, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Just a thought.... maybe he returned to the scene of where his bullying first took place. We need to teach our kids not to bully, and maybe we will have less violence in our schools. People with Aspergers generally are not violent however perceive the world differently and have excellent memories as well as above average intelligence and are often vigorously bullied. I am not condoning or making excuses for the inexcusable, I am just saying that there is far too much bullying going on in our schools and it is of epidemic proportions and needs to be addressed by us all. We need more tolerance for those who are different and it starts with us adults to be good role models for our kids.
Robert B. March 08, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Just a thought: Anyone living with a mentally ill person should not keep firearms around, or really any weapon for that matter, if the person deemed insane is a known danger by at least one other person. By keeping guns in the home, by teaching her son how to load and discharge a firearm as well as (I'm assuming this to be the case) how to remove said firearms from storage, if they survive, should be detained as accessory to manslaughter and charged with a class D felony, as well as be exposed to the possibility of the death penalty.


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