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Details Of Sandy Hook Shooter Remain Hazy


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Bardens, 7; Olivia Engel, 6...

MARTIN: Yesterday, we learned the names of the victims from the Newtown school shooting - 12 girls, eight boys and six adults. Last night, on the town green in nearby Bethlehem, Connecticut, the community came together, candles in hand, to remember the victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison Wyatt, 6 years old...

MARTIN: As the community mourns, a picture is slowly emerging of the 20-year-old responsible for the shootings. Adam Lanza was home schooled for at least a few years and was described as being really into computers. He is said to have been smart and quiet.

NPR's Brian Naylor has more.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: The pictures posted on various websites of Adam Lanza show a thin and pale kid, with pageboy bangs. The photos are hard to reconcile with the images of the man, described as wearing body armor, who forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a high powered rifle and two semiautomatic pistols, and killed 20 children, all six and seven years old according to the medical examiner.

He also killed six adults at the school, and his own body was found among the dead. Officials have not officially confirmed that he took own life.

We know a few things for certain about Adam Lanza. He grew up in Newtown; his parents divorced in 2008, Adam stayed with his mother in a handsome, colonial house in an upscale neighborhood in Newtown. Adam's father, an executive at GE, moved to Stamford, a few dozen miles away, and remarried. There was also an older brother, Ryan, who lives in Hoboken, N.J., and was originally misidentified as the shooter.

His aunt, Marsha Lanza, described Adam to reporters this way.

MARSHA LANZA: He was different. He was quiet, nice kid, good kid. I mean, he was definitely challenging family in that house. Every family has one. I have one. They have one. But never in trouble with the law, never in trouble with anything.

NAYLOR: Marsha Lanza addressed reporters on her doorstep in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Ill. She said her sister-in-law, Nancy, Adam Lanza's mother, grew up in New Hampshire and was familiar with firearms. Officials have said that all guns used in the shootings Friday were legally obtained by Nancy Lanza. A number of reports quoted family friends as saying she and her son had gone to area shooting ranges together.

Its unclear why but at some point, Nancy Lanza pulled Adam out of the Newtown public schools, according to Marsha.

LANZA: I know she had issues with school. She eventually wound up home schooling him, and she battled with the school district; in what capacity, I'm not 100 percent certain if it was behavior, if it was learning disabilities. I really don't know but he was a very, very bright boy. He was smart.

NAYLOR: Law enforcement authorities would not confirm reports that Adam Lanza had Asperger's syndrome, a disability which can affect social behavior. Marsha Lanza said her nephew had been taking college courses, but its not clear where he was enrolled or if he had a job.

Published interviews with people who remember Adam say he kept to himself and seemed socially awkward, but not violent. That's a description applied in the past to others who suddenly and mysteriously committed acts of violence, a litany all too familiar to a nation watching yet another community grieve over yet another mass shooting.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.

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