NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The massacre of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, a 20-year-old described as brilliant but remote, was driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.
Investigators were trying to learn more about Adam Lanza and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have been involved in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary. Police shed no light on the motive for the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
Lanza is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation.
Asked at a news conference whether Lanza had left any emails or other writings that might explain the rampage, state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found “very good evidence” and hoped it would answer questions about the gunman’s motives. Vance would not elaborate.
The tragedy plunged the picturesque New England town of 27,000 people into mourning.
“People in my neighborhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations,” said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who volunteered her services and was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.
Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, drove to the school in her car with at least three of her guns, and opened fire in two classrooms around 9:30 a.m. Friday, law enforcement officials said.
A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman, and someone switched on the intercom, perhaps saving many lives by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, a teacher said.
Among those killed was the school’s well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung. Town officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him.
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 it. It was not clear whether he held a job.
At least one parent said Lanza’s mother was a substitute teacher at the school. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.
Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of Hoboken, N.J., was questioned, and investigators searched his computers and phone records, but he told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.
The gunman forced his way into the K-4 grade school, authorities said. He took three guns into the school — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both semiautomatic pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle. The weapons were registered to his slain mother.
Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of prosperous Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, where neighbors are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM. His parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records.
Catherine Urso, of Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer. "He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths," she said.
Reaction was swift and emotional in Newtown and beyond.
In Japan, where guns are severely restricted and there are extremely few gun-related crimes, the attack led the news two days before parliamentary elections. In China, which has seen several knife rampages at schools in recent years, the attack quickly consumed public discussion.