Who Was Adam Lanza, The Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting Suspect?

A picture of the quiet, troubled 20-year-old begins to emerge in the wake of yesterday’s shooting. Lanza is reported to be among the 28 dead at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

As reports come in from Connecticut, the consistent answer to the question – “who was Adam Lanza?” – seems to be that no one really knew. He wasn’t pictured in his graduating class’s high school yearbook – above his name, it simply reads “camera shy.”

Undated photo reportedly confirmed by government officials to be Adam Lanza. Via usnews.nbcnews.com

The 20-year-old also stayed off of the social web, although he has been described as a “computer nerd.” He was on the honor roll and the Washington Post’s source says he was a “wicked smart kid [who] excelled in everything.” Another classmate told The Sun: “He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius.”

But these sources didn’t know Lanza well – so far, it seems like no one did. College friends of his brother, Ryan, say “I knew he had a brother, but I never knew anything more than he existed.” One classmate recalled Lanza in school “I never saw him with anyone. I can’t even think of one person that was associated with him.”

There is one other consistent scrap of information coming from Connecticut: “He was a deeply disturbed kid,” with “major issues,” a family insider told the New York Daily News. What exactly those major issues stemmed from remains hazy – some reports say that Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism that is not normally associated with any threat of violence, and others have described him more vaguely as having a personality disorder. “A few years ago when he was on the baseball team, everyone had to be careful that he didn’t fall because he could get hurt and not feel it. Adam had a lot of mental problems.” Another former classmate said that Lanza had a “very flat affect.” He continued, “if you looked at him, you couldn’t see any emotions going through his head.”

The New York Times spoke to Olivia DeVivo, one of Lanza’s classmates. “You could tell that he felt so uncomfortable about being put on the spot. I think that maybe he wasn’t given the right kind of attention or help. I think he went so unnoticed that people didn’t even stop to realize that maybe there’s actually something else going on here — that maybe he needs to be talking or getting some kind of mental help. In high school, no one really takes the time to look and think, ‘Why is he acting this way?’ ”

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