Connecticut school shooting: Did paranoid, gun-crazed mother trigger Adam Lanza"s killing spree?

Did paranoid, gun-crazed mother trigger son's school killing spree Friends say she believed world was on edge of collapseNancy Lanza portrayed as 'survivalist' who stockpiled food, water and gunsShe was shot four times in the head, possibly as she slept, by her sonCollection of guns included handguns, assault rifle and two hunting riflesSon Adam was reclusive, spending most of his time in adjoining bedroomsFiercely protective mother insisted he was never left on his ownMoved to Sandy Hook in around 1998 but Mrs Lanza and husband divorcedFunerals for the young victims are to begin today

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UPDATED:

10:38 GMT, 17 December 2012


Gun lover: Nancy Lanza had reportedly become 'obsessed' with guns and taught Adam how to shoot

Gun lover: Nancy Lanza had reportedly become 'obsessed' with guns and taught Adam how to shoot

The mother of the loner who massacred 26 pupils and staff at a US primary school may have played a major part in his catastrophic mental breakdown, it emerged last night.

Friends and family portrayed Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy as a paranoid ‘survivalist’ who believed the world was on the verge of violent, economic collapse.

She is reported to have been struggling to hold herself together and had been stockpiling food, water and guns in the large home she shared with her 20-year-old son in Connecticut.

Mrs Lanza, 52, was a ‘prepper’ – so called because they are preparing for a breakdown in civilised society – who apparently became obsessed with guns and taught Adam and his older brother, Ryan, how to shoot, even taking them to local ranges.

That backfired horrifically on Friday when Adam Lanza began his killing spree by shooting his mother dead in bed.

He fired four bullets into her head – possibly as she slept – then took three of her guns to Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where he killed 20 children and six staff.

Lanza’s aunt Marsha said Nancy was ‘self reliant’ and that they talked a lot about how she was preparing for the economic meltdown.

She said her former sister-in-law was meticulous about never leaving guns out, but made no secret of having an imposing firearm collection.

It included not only the two handguns and semi-automatic assault rifle used in the killings but also two traditional hunting rifles.

She would boast about them in a local bar and also showed them off to her landscape gardener.

‘She told me she liked the single-mindedness of shooting,’ said Dan Holmes, who looked after the large garden around her rambling home. He also recalled how Mrs Lanza would go target shooting with her boys ‘pretty often’.

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Mother: Fifty-two-year-old Nancy Lanza, pictured, was 'obsessed with guns' and preparing for the collapse of the world economy

Mother: Fifty-two-year-old Nancy Lanza, pictured, was preparing for the collapse of the world economy by stockpiling food, water and guns in the large home she shared with her son

Mr Holmes revealed how Mrs Lanza – who divorced Adam’s father Peter, a wealthy senior executive at a financial services company, in 2008 – never liked people to see inside her house.

‘I would ring the bell on the front door and she would come out the side and meet me,’ he said. ‘It was a little weird. It’s stranger now thinking back on what happened.’

As for her son, he was described yesterday as a ‘ghost’ – an autistic genius, according to former school fellows, but also a ‘deeply disturbed’ young man who was so withdrawn that even many of his closest relatives hadn’t set eyes on him for years.

It emerged last night that police are trying to repair a computer hard drive which was found shattered on the floor in the killer’s bedroom but which they believe may hold vital clues to his motives.

Friends who regularly played Mrs Lanza at a dice game said they too never managed to see the inside of her home.

Disturbed: Adam Lanza (circled) at a school technology group. Fellow pupils called him a 'ghost'

Disturbed: Adam Lanza (circled) at a school technology group. Fellow pupils called him a 'ghost'

Baby-faced: Adam Lanza pictured during his secondary school days. His mother taught him how to shoot

Baby-faced: Adam Lanza pictured during his secondary school days. His mother taught him how to shoot

During 15 years of playing together at alternating homes, Mrs Lanza’s turn to host the game was always skipped, said Rhonda Collens.

Fellow players and her neighbours described her as generous but reserved, a ‘nice lady’ who loved to make small talk about their gardens.

But others noted that beneath the mellow exterior, she was highly-strung and appeared to be ‘holding herself together’.

Like Mr Holmes, they never met Adam, a reclusive youth who had few if any friends and spent most of his time in two adjoining bedrooms in the family home.

There he would spend hours on his computer, much of the time devoted to playing violent games.

Neighbours said Mrs Lanza, who grew up
on a New Hampshire farm, recently took time off from a job in finance
to spend more time with her troubled younger son.

Despite
initial reports that she was a kindergarten teacher at the school her
son attacked, she had no connection with it and was described by a
neighbour as ‘just a stay-at-home mom’.

Nancy Lanza's home in Newtown, Connecticut, was raided after 2 pm on Friday and she was found shot dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the face

Nancy Lanza's home in Newtown, Connecticut, was raided after 2 pm on Friday and she was found shot dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the face

Killer: Adam Lanza, 20, shot his teacher mother before driving to her elementary school and shooting 26 people including 20 children

Killer: Adam Lanza, 20, shot his teacher mother before driving to her elementary school and shooting 26 people including 20 children

While her older son Ryan, 24, had a
successful career in a New York finance house, there is no evidence that
the 20-year-old killer ever had a job. And despite his addiction to the
computer, he kept away from social networks and had neither a Facebook
page or a Twitter account.

Ryan
Kraft, who babysat for Mrs Lanza when Adam was ten, said the boy was
prone to serious temper tantrums. The fiercely protective Mrs Lanza
insisted the babysitter never left Adam on his own for a moment, even to
go to the lavatory.

But he remembered her as an ‘engaged’ mother who did her best to arrange playdates for her sons.

Marsha Lanza, the killer’s aunt, described him as a ‘nice, quiet’ and ‘very, very bright’ boy who had issues with learning.

That
verdict tallies with the accounts of fellow school pupils who said he
was very bright, particularly at maths, but painfully shy.

Slaughtered: The 12 little girls and eight little boys - all age six and seven - gunned down in cold blood by 'mentally disturbed' shooter at Connecticut elementary school

Slaughtered: The 12 little girls and eight little boys – all age six and seven – gunned down in cold blood by 'mentally disturbed' shooter at Connecticut elementary school

Noah Pozner

Jack Pinto

Funerals:The Connecticut Funeral Directors
Association has announced they will start with services for
six-year-olds Noah Pozner, left, and Jack Pinto, right later today

Catherine Urso said her son, who was at school with him, described him as ‘very thin, very remote and one of the goths’.

Kate Leen, who was at school with him in their early teens, added: ‘You would say ‘‘hi’’ and he would say ‘‘hi’’ back but he didn’t give you a lot to work with. He wasn’t exactly welcoming.’

Alex Israel, who was in his class at Newtown High School, said she was convinced he was a ‘genius’, adding: ‘He was always different – keeping to himself, fidgeting and very quiet. His parents – particularly his mother – reportedly drove him hard to succeed.’

Others recalled that he carried a
black briefcase when everyone else had backpacks, joined a technology
club, cementing his reputation as one of the school nerds, and declined
to be photographed for the school yearbook.

His
school years came to an abrupt end when his mother had a dispute with
local education officials and ended up having her son home-schooled.

The
Lanzas moved to Sandy Hook in around 1998 but Mrs Lanza and her husband
divorced ten years later amid rumours that their difficult younger son
had put a heavy strain on their marriage.

She had no real need to work again after reportedly extracting $200,000 a year in support from her husband.

W5Traumatized students were seen being led out of the school crying and holding hands.

Traumatized students were seen being led out of the school crying and holding hands

The families of victims grieve near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where teacher Nancy Lanza's son Adam, 20, opened fire and killed 20 children and six adults

Disbelief: The families of victims grieve near Sandy Hook Elementary School

It appears she was not only estranged from her ex-spouse but also possibly from her older son. Before he was questioned by police over his brother’s crime, Ryan Lanza claimed he had not seen Adam since 2010.

Mrs Lanza’s brother, a former police officer named James Champion, said he hadn’t seen his younger nephew in eight years.

Police say a member of Adam’s family – probably his brother – has told them he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

Experts have insisted the condition, while prompting the sufferer to withdraw into his own world, would not be responsible on its own for making him go on a homicidal spree.

That said, the experts note that if he had mental problems, these, combined with years of social isolation, inadequacy and the easy availability of an arsenal of firearms, could have been a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile funerals have been scheduled for seven of the US school shooting victims.

The Connecticut Funeral Directors Association has announced they will start with services for six-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto later today.

The funeral for six-year-old Jessica Rekos is planned for tomorrow, with services for seven-year-old Daniel Barden and 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto on Wednesday.

On Thursday six-year-old Catherine Hubbard will be laid to rest.

A private service has been planned for six-year-old British boy Dylan Hockley. No date was announced.

All smiles: President Obama is able to temporarily lift the spirits of young victim Emilie Parker's siblings and some other guests while meeting with the families before speaking at the interfaith service

All smiles: President Obama is able to temporarily lift the spirits of young victim Emilie Parker's siblings and some other guests while meeting with the families before speaking at the interfaith service

Presidential embrace: Mr Obama talked to grieving father Robbie Parker, appearing to connect on a personal level

 Emilie Alice Parker

Presidential embrace: Mr Obama talked to
grieving father Robbie Parker about the loss of his daughter Emilie
Parker, pictured right in a photo released by the family

Family photo: Mr Obama joined the parents and their two remaining daughters

Family photo: Mr Obama joined the parents and their two remaining daughters

Lining up: People wait in line to enter Newtown High School for a memorial vigil attended by President Barack Obama

Lining up: People wait in line to enter Newtown High School for a memorial vigil attended by President Barack Obama

This weekend a planned nativity play which featured one of the slain youngsters went ahead.

Olivia Engel, one of the children killed at Sandy Hook, was would have been an angel in her church's nativity- the evening nativity play was one of the few events running as planned in the town as church leaders and parents sought to provide something that would distract youngsters from the school tragedy.

Yesterday the possibility was raised that Adam Lanza had planned an even deadlier massacre and was stopped short.

Connecticut state police Lt. J. Paul
Vance said that Lanza had 'hundreds' of bullets remaining when he killed
himself in the school, and was in possession of multiple high-capacity
magazines for all of the four guns he brought with him.

Packed house: Sharon Bertrand, center, listens with her daughter Daysha, 13, left, and son Juan, to a memorial service over a loudspeaker outside Newtown High School

Packed house: Sharon Bertrand, center, listens with her daughter Daysha, 13, left, and son Juan, to a memorial service over a loudspeaker outside Newtown High School

Memories: New London, Connecticut resident Rachel Pullen, center, kisses her son Landon DeCecco at a memorial

Memories: New London, Connecticut resident Rachel Pullen, center, kisses her son Landon DeCecco at a memorial

Pausing to reflect: A 3-year-old girl is accompanied by her father while lighting a candle outside of Newton High School while President Obama spoke at the memorial service

Pausing to reflect: A 3-year-old girl is accompanied by her father while lighting a candle outside of Newton High School while President Obama spoke at the memorial service

Remembrance: Attendees release paper lanterns during a vigil for victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting yesterday in Omaha, Nebraska

Remembrance: Attendees release paper lanterns during a vigil for victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting yesterday in Omaha, Nebraska

Lanza had a Bushmaster .223-caliber
rifle and two handguns on his person when his dead body was found by
police, and he also had a shotgun in the car parked outside of the
building.

Barack Obama flew in last night to console grieving parents as demands grew for tighter gun controls in the United States.

Mr Obama also attended an evening vigil to mourn with the shellshocked community in Newtown.

He met privately with families of the 26 victims and with emergency crews who responded to the shootings before speaking at an interfaith service at the town’s high school.

Barely able to contain his emotions, the President wiped back tears and declared: ‘As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years.’

His call for ‘meaningful action’ in the wake of the shootings reignited the fierce gun law debate and raised an expectation among weapon control advocates that Mr Obama will seek changes.

Arms in the US

VIDEO: In full. President Barack Obama addresses the Newton community

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VIDEO: Lanza family issue statement expressing their 'heartfelt sorrow'

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