Suspected shooter may have had personality disorder

AP Photo/Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks photo

In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a reported shooting there today, Dec. 14, 2012.

December 14, 2012 noon - Updated: 5:35 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The man suspected of killing his mother and then gunning down more than two dozen people Friday at the Connecticut elementary school where she taught may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.

Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School with three weapons — two handguns and a .223-caliber rifle — and carrying out the massacre and killing himself, officials said. Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about the 20-year-old and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have any involvement in the rampage.

So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. Witnesses said the shooter didn’t utter a word.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people packed the St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, some of them holding hands in circles and saying prayers. Others lit candles and sang “Silent Night.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is among the speakers.

Anthony Bloss, whose three daughters survived the shooting, says they heard gunshots but they are not talking much about the shooting. He says he feels completely numb.

Tracy Hoekenga says she wanted to come to the vigil because she is struggling with many emotions. Her two boys survived the shooting.

Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy, lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown, a prosperous community of 27,000 people about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

A grandmother of the suspect — who is also the mother of the slain teacher — was too distraught to speak when reached by phone at her home in Brooksville, Fla.

“I just don’t know, and I can’t make a comment right now,” Dorothy Hanson, 78, said in a shaky voice as she started to cry. She said she hadn’t heard anything official about her daughter and grandsons. She declined to comment further and hung up.

Adam Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza of Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned, a law enforcement official said. He told authorities that his brother was believed to suffer from a personality disorder and be “somewhat autistic” and lived with his mother in Connecticut, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the unfolding investigation.

Ryan Lanza had been extremely cooperative and was not under arrest or in custody, but investigators were still searching his computers and phone records. Ryan Lanza told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

Brett Wilshe, a friend of Ryan Lanza’s, said he sent him a Facebook message Friday asking what was going on and if he was OK. According to Wilshe, Lanza’s reply was something along the lines of: “It was my brother. I think my mother is dead. Oh my God.”

Adam Lanza attended Newtown High School, and several local news clippings from recent years mention his name among the school’s honor roll students.

A neighbor in Newtown, Rhonda Cullens, said she knew Nancy Lanza from monthly get-togethers the neighborhood women had a few years back for games of bunco, a dice game.

“She was a very nice lady,” Cullens said. “She was just like all the rest of us in the neighborhood, just a regular person.”

Cullens recalled that Lanza liked to garden and to make her house look nice for the holidays. Lanza joked, though, that no one noticed because the house was out of view, up a hill, she said.

Sandeep Kapur, who lives two doors down from the Lanza family in Newtown, said he did not know them and was unaware of any disturbances at the Lanza house in the three years that he and his family have been in the neighborhood.

He described the area as a subdivision of well-tended, 15-year-old homes on lots of an acre or more, where many people work at companies like General Electric, Pepsi and IBM. Some are doctors, and his next-door neighbor is a bank CEO, said Kapur, a project manager at an information technology firm.

“The neighborhood’s great. We have young kids, and they have lots of friends,” he said. “If you drive past this neighborhood, it gives you a really warm feeling.”

Trauma tips for children

Spokane school officials offer these tips on talking to your children about traumatic events.

Washington State’s School Safety Planning Manual

View Washington’s school safety planning manual.

Idaho’s Safe and Secure Schools Assessment

An audit of school safety in Idaho.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Back to Spokesman Mobile