Adam Lanza (AP-Yonhap News)
Some described him as weird, others said he was smart, but none of the Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza’s acquaintances saw a potential killer in the 20-year-old.
On Friday, Lanza opened fire at a U.S. elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and six adults before killing himself. He also murdered his mother by shooting her in the face before embarking upon the atrocious rampage.
The tragic incident ― the second deadliest only to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 people dead ― left families deeply grieving and authorities grasping for clues.
Testimonies from Lanza’s childhood friends and neighbors offered, however sketchy, hints on why the young man many described as “intelligent” decided to indulge in bloodlust.
A former classmate of Lanza said in a media interview that the gunman was “very intellectually sound” but was distant from everyone else. “We never knew his real personality. He was just himself.”
“They (Lanza family) are a mystery,” 46-year-old Len Strocchia was quoted as saying. “Nobody on the block knew them.”
Richard Novia, a former school adviser for Lanza’s old high school, said he was a loner who felt different from everyone else. “If that boy would’ve burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically,” Novia said.
An unnamed local police officer said Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism that is accompanied by social awkwardness, but doctors said there is no clear link between the disease and violence.
In the aftermath of yet another massacre by a “lone wolf,” gun control advocates in the U.S. stressed the need to take proactive measures in a country where some 270 million guns are circulating.
U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota called it an “epidemic problem” and urged U.S. President Barack Obama to come up with legislation to keep firearms in check.
Obama addressed the nation with strong rhetoric of his own on Friday, saying: “We have to come together and we’re going to have to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
It remains to be seen whether his words will transform into stronger gun regulation as he did not propose any specific measures on the sensitive issue during his first term.
By Yoon Min-sik and news reports