to heartless killer
he 20-year-old – who shot dead 27 people in America’s worst-ever school killing – began his rampage by shooting his mother in the face at the family’s $1.6 million home in Newtown, Connecticut, dubbed America’s ‘safest town’.
He then then took three of her guns and drove her black Honda Civic to Sandy Hook Elementary School around 9.30am, where he killed 20 young children and six adults before shooting himself in the head.
Lanza used two semi-automatic pistols, a Glock and Sig Sauer, and reportedly wiped out an entire classroom of young children, then shot several in a second class before taking his own life.
While an official has said that the 20-year-old gunman in the Connecticut school shooting had Asperger's syndrome, experts say there is no connection between the disorder and violence.
Asperger's is a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness.
"There really is no clear association between Asperger's and violent behavior," said psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Witnesses say Lanza was going from room to room shooting people, after first killing the principal Dawn Hochsprung and the school psychologist Mary Sherlach execution-style when they confronted him in the hallway.
Former classmate Olivia DeVivo said she remembered Lanza talking about ‘blowing things up’, but added: ‘I put that down to the usual talk of boys. I think he went so unnoticed people didn’t stop to think, “There’s something going on here – maybe he needs some kind of help?”
‘No one is surprised. He always seemed like he was someone who was capable of that because he didn’t really connect with our high school, with our town.’
Another former school friend, Jamie Crespo, 19, said: ‘He used to hang with the freaks, guys who dressed in trench coats.’
Other students remember him walking through school dressed in black, carrying a black briefcase.
Newtown High School's 2010 class president Ben Federman is like the rest of his classmates - he can barely remember Adam Lanza.
Mr Federman, who was home from attending college at Vanderbilt University, told MailOnline that he had heard from many graduates from the class of 2010 and none of them can think of a single friend Lanza had.
'The only time I ever saw him was in the hallway and he never seemed to engage anyone. He was just focused on walking from one class to another,' Mr Federman said.
His only memory of the 20--year-old Lanza was the bizarre way he dressed - always in button-down shirts that were too big for him. He also usually had pens in his shirt pocket and usually carried a black leather briefcase.
'You noticed that because it was different. He carried a briefcase and not a backpack,' Mr Federman said.
Lanza appears to have enjoyed a normal childhood, attending Sandy Hook Elementary and then Newtown High School, in the affluent town 60 miles from New York.
He graduated high school in 2010 and refused to pose for the traditional high school yearbook picture – a rite of passage in America. Instead, a note on the page under his name states: ‘Camera shy.
In 2007, when he was a freshman, he was pictured along with ten of his classmates for a group photo of the 'Tech Club,' which 'allowed students to explore technology and promote events' on student TV.
In two yearbooks from his time in high school - he wasn't even listed in one and his name appeared under 'not pictured' in another.
Richard Novia, the school district's head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, said Lanza clearly 'had some disabilities.
'If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically," Novia told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It was my job to pay close attention to that.'
Mr Novia described Lanza as 'a very scared young boy, who was very nervous around people he could trust or he refused to speak with,' Novia said.
'Somewhere along in the last four years, there were significant changes that led to what has happened,' Novia said. 'I could never have foreseen him doing that.'
Yesterday reports claimed he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism where sufferers experience difficulties with communication and social skills, which can lead to isolation and emotional problems.
Neighbor Justin Germak, 17, said he knew Lanza ‘had a condition’. ‘You definitely noticed it. He was needy. He struggled to be social.’
'Everyone just assumed he was a smart kid and that’s why he didn’t like talking to people all the time,' Peter Lalli, 20, who graduated with Lanza in 2010, told the New York Daily News. 'He hung out with the smart crowd.'
Another former classmate said Adam has been 'a weird kid since we were five years old.'
Tim Dalton wrote on Twitter: 'As horrible as this was, I can't say I am surprised...'
Family friends said Lanza’s problems started to escalate when his parents divorced in 2008 after 18 years together.
His father Peter, a wealthy executive for General Electric, who is believed to earn $1 million a year, moved out of the family home in 2006, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’.
The 52-year-old married librarian Shelley Cudiner last year, and the couple moved 40 miles away to Stamford, Connecticut..
Father: Peter, a wealthy executive for General Electric, who is believed to earn $1million a year, moved out of the family home in 2006
However, he continued to provide well for Nancy and their younger son, giving her the family home as well as nearly $325,000 a year.
One of Lanza’s former classmates spoke of his ‘noticeable decline’ after his parents’ divorce. ‘He was a loner at school and hyper intelligent,’ he said. ‘But in recent years he disappeared off the radar.
‘The word is that he was badly affected when his parents split and that might be what pushed him over the edge.
‘He was always weird but the divorce affected him. He was arguing with his mother. He was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.’
A relative to the family said that Adam Lanza was ‘obviously not well,’ adding that he often seemed troubled. They described Nancy as being rigid and at times, overbearing.
Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping firm who worked on the family’s home, said she was an avid gun collector: ‘She told me she would go target shooting with her kids.’
Sources close to the investigation also revealed last night that Nancy had recently stopped hosting monthly get-togethers for neighbors in order to look after her increasingly troubled son.
The 50-year-old is thought to have worked as a supply teacher at the elementary school where the shootings took place.