Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
A police roadblock serves as a makeshift memorial at the corner of Riverside and Cherry Streets on Saturday in Newtown, Conn.
Jessica Henderson, 19, walks past a sign with a bouquet of flowers to lay at a memorial at The Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., on Saturday.
Investigators told CNN they believe Lanza tried to buy a gun at Dick's Sporting Goods in Danbury on Tuesday, but was unsuccessful. Employees at the store – some 12 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary – have been interviewed and have searched the store's surveillance cameras for evidence that Lanza had been there.
Authorities said Lanza had no criminal history; it was not clear whether he had a job. Lanza was believed to have suffered from a personality disorder, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's, a mild form of autism that is often characterized by social awkwardness. People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger's and violent behavior, experts say.
The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.
Acquaintances describe the former honor student as smart but odd and remote.
"He was very different and very shy and didn't make an effort to interact with anybody" in his 10th-grade English class, said Olivia DeVivo, now a student at the University of Connecticut. Lanza always came to school toting a briefcase and wearing his shirt buttoned all the way up, she said.
"You had yourself a very scared young boy, who was very nervous around people," said Richard Novia, who was the district's head of security and adviser to the school's Tech Club, of which Lanza was a member. He added: "He was a loner."
Novia said Lanza had extreme difficulties relating to fellow students and teachers, as well as a strange bodily condition: "If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically."
Lanza would also go through crises that would require his mother to come to school to deal with. Such episodes might involve "total withdrawal from whatever he was supposed to be doing, be it a class, be it sitting and read a book," Novia said.
When people approached Lanza in the hallways, he would press himself against the wall or walk in a different direction, clutching his black case "like an 8-year-old who refuses to give up his teddy bear," said Novia, who now lives in Tennessee.
Even so, Novia said his primary concern about Lanza was that he might become a target for teasing or abuse by his fellow students, not that he might become a threat.
"Somewhere along in the last four years there were significant changes that led to what has happened Friday morning," Novia said. "I could never have foreseen him doing that."
Sandy Hook Elementary will be closed next week -- some parents can't even conceive of sending their children back, Board of Education chairwoman Debbie Leidlein said -- and officials are considering what to do about the town's other schools.
"Next week is going to be horrible," said the town's legislative council chairman, Jeff Capeci, thinking about the string of funerals the town will face. "Horrible, and the week leading into Christmas."
Asked whether the town would recover, Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library who took cover in a storage room with 18 fourth-graders during the shooting rampage, said: "We have to. We have a lot of children left."
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A couple of volunteer firefighters place flowers at a makeshift memorial at a sign for the Sandy Hook Elementary school on Satuday.