Adam Lanza: What We Think We Know About the Apparent Newtown Shooter

The Atlantic
Adam Lanza: What We Think We Know About the Apparent Newtown Shooter
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Adam Lanza: What We Think We Know About the Apparent Newtown Shooter

After the many misreportings of the identity of the shooter in Friday's Newtown school shooting, multiple reports cite law enforcement officials as identifying 20-year-old Adam Lanza as the man who killed 26 people and himself at a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning. Cautious to repeat the same embarrassments from earlier Friday, and working off leaks from federal agencies as local police remain mum, the media hasn't gone wild posting social-media profiles of Lanza, or relaying too many details about his life. (Disturbingly, terrible fake Twitter accounts like this one have popped up.) But we do think know a few things about Lanza so far.

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Adam Lanza (pictured above in 2005) was 20 years old before he died on Friday — it was not yet clear as of Friday evening whether he took his own life or whether it was taken. His brother, Ryan, who was mistakenly identified as the shooter earlier Friday, described his younger brother as having a "personality disorder," either Asperger's or a form of autism, reports ABC News — but he hadn't seen him since 2010, Ryan told authorities, according to The New York Post. Neighbors described Adam Lanza to ABC as "odd" and displaying characteristics associated with OCD. People with Asperger's sometimes display "behaviors beyond their control," according to this med-help.org site. Though there is not much research on the connection between violent crimes and autism, one study found 15 percent of juveniles evaluated in a "forensic setting" in Sweden had autistic spectrum disorders. (Asperger's is no longer classified as a form of autism.) Another law enforcement official told Fox that Adam Lanza had a "checkered past ... troubled youth for most of his life," but CNN is reporting that he had no criminal record.

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As for the rest of his family, we know his mother taught kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary. NBC News is reporting that her body was found in the home they shared, which appears to be located at this Newtown address listed to a Nancy J. Lanza. (The Associated Press reports Nancy as the mother's name as well.) The two had an "argument" this morning, sources say, after which Lanza reportedly killed his mother and drove her car to the school, along with three guns purchased by and registered to Nancy. His father, is Peter Lanza, a vice president of taxes for GE Energy Financial Services who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, according to The Stamford Advocate. Peter does not appear to have had recent contact with Adam, and neither he nor his brother were connected to the incident. Adam does appear to have had a girlfriend who the AP says has gone missing, along with a friend of his. Stay tuned to our live blog for more updates.

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