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Shooter called ‘very remote,’ ‘socially awkward’

Adam P. Lanza, 20, obscure in life, infamous in death.

A really rambunctious kid, as one former neighbor in Newtown, Conn., recalled him, adding that he was on medications. He was a son of an accountant and a schoolteacher.

Friday morning, police say, he shot and killed his mother in their home. And then, carrying firearms and an abundance of ammunition, he drove to Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and started shooting. By the time he turned one of the guns on himself, police say, he had killed 20 children, and six more adults.

As scores of investigators worked Friday to piece together what happened at the school and why, the barest details of Lanza’s life began to emerge.

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

Catherine Urso, who was attending a vigil Friday evening in Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer and remembered him for his alternative style.

“He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths,” she said.

The separation hit the children hard, Kraft recalled.

When Nancy Lanza would go out to dinner with friends, she sometimes relied on Kraft to watch Adam Lanza, who was too boisterous for Ryan Lanza to manage.

“He would have tantrums,” Kraft said. “They were much more than the average kid.” Yet he was not prone to violence, Kraft said.

“The kids seemed really depressed” by the breakup, Kraft said of the Lanza brothers. Ryan Lanza, 24, now lives in Hoboken, N.J. He was questioned by police Friday, but law enforcement officials said he was cooperating and was not suspected of having anything to do with the shootings.

For several hours Friday, authorities and the news media misidentified the shooter as Ryan Lanza, who, like his father, is an accountant, a law enforcement official said.

Brett Wilshe, a friend of Ryan Lanza’s, said he sent him a Facebook message Friday asking what was going on and whether 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.”

The Wall Street Journal quoted a friend of Ryan Lanza’s as saying that Lanza works for Ernst & Young. “He is a little shy, but very nice and sweet,” the friend, Katie Colaneri, 24, of Hoboken, told the Journal.

Kraft said Nancy Lanza put the best face possible on her domestic troubles.

“Nancy was really pleasant,” he said. “She would come by the house and have a glass of wine with my mom.” The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2009, according to court records.

Beth Israel, who lived for a time on the same street as the Lanzas, recalled Adam Lanza as withdrawn, but not threatening in any way.

“Overall, I would just call him a socially awkward kid, I don’t know, shy and quiet. Didn’t really look you in the eye,” Israel said in a telephone interview Friday night. “Just kind of a weird kid, maybe. I can’t tell you any specific incidents why I thought so,” she said.

A law enforcement official – who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is far from finished – said Adam Lanza fatally shot his mother in her home, then drove in her car to the school.

He had two semiautomatic pistols and a .223-caliber rifle, law enforcement officials said. He apparently used only the handguns, which were later found in the school.

The rifle was found in the vehicle.

Peter Lanza, a vice president and tax specialist at GE Energy Financial Services, is remarried and lives in Stamford, Conn., according to the Stamford Advocate.

When he arrived home Friday and was approached by a reporter, the newspaper reported, he appeared “surprised and horrified” and declined to comment on the mass shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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