WASHINGTON – He was an honors student who lived in a prosperous neighborhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for the holidays.
Now Adam Lanza is suspected of killing his mother and then gunning down more than two dozen people, 20 of them children, at a Connecticut grade school before taking his own life.
The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.
Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have any involvement in the rampage.
So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. Witnesses said the shooter didn’t utter a word.
Catherine Urso, who was attending a vigil Friday evening in Newtown, Conn., 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.
Lanza and his mother, Nancy, lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown, a prosperous community of 27,000 people about 60 miles northeast of New York City.
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, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of 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.
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. 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 honor roll students.
Andrew Lapple, who sat next to Lanza in homeroom, described him as a skinny, reserved kid “who never really talked at all.”
Lapple said he played Little League baseball with Lanza and remembers he wasn’t very good. Instead, Lanza was more of a “tech-geek,” he said.
“He was always carrying around his laptop holding on to it real tight,” Lapple said. “He walked down the halls against the wall almost like he was afraid of people. He was definitely kind of strange but you’d never think he’d do something like this.”
Marsha Moskowitz, a former bus driver in town, remembered the Lanza boys.
“You know the trouble kids, and you figure, ‘Pfft, that one’s going to be trouble.’ But I never would have thought that about them,” she said.
Lanza’s parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Conn., according to public records.