Shooter identified in Connecticut, may have targeted his teacher mother; Update: Shooter killed himself, reports of missing girlfriend; Update: Shooter misidentified; Update: “Personality disorder”? Update: Mother shot at home? Update: Guns legally bought by mother
posted at 3:01 pm on December 14, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham
CNN reports the suspect is Ryan Lanza, a white male in his early 20s. He died in the school, but it’s unclear how he died. CBS News is reporting he’s from the Newtown area, his mother had been living in the area, and some students killed may have been students of his mother, who taught at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
[Updated at 2:11 p.m. ET] CNN’s Susan Candiotti has just reported that a law enforcement official tells her the suspect is named Ryan Lanza and he is in his 20s.
I will not be showing a picture of the shooter because it appears that many, many news outlets and thousands of tweeters distributed the photo of the first Ryan Lanza they found on Facebook, and it was not the correct Ryan Lanza. Tweets a man claiming to be the friend of the incorrectly identified Lanza:
I’ll just stand by on this because it’s all very uncertain and I really do not want to accuse anyone other than the actual Ryan Lanza of committing this horrible crime.
I want to be careful about all of this, because details remain hazy, but I will just tell you who’s reporting what and reinforce that reports are preliminary and may change.
CBS News says it has confirmed that Lanza’s mother was a teacher at the school and was killed, but it’s unclear whether she died on school grounds. There were reports earlier in the day that his mother might have been killed in a home connected to the shooter, but CBS is now reporting there is a body at the home connected with the suspect.
BREAKING — Body found at a family residence of CT school gunman, CBS News reports.
— Michael van Poppel (@mpoppel) December 14, 2012
The gunman, who was believed to be in his 20s, walked into a classroom where his mother was a teacher. He shot and killed her and then shot 18 students in the classroom. He also shot seven other adults.The gunman then killed himself inside the school. The shooting ranks among the worst in recent United States history.
Update: From local news in Newtown:
The gunman delilberately went to Sandy Hook Elementary School with the intention of killing his mother who was a kindergarten teacher at the school, according to NBC Channel 4.
According to the report, the gunman left a Hoboken, NJ home where there apparently is a victim. It is believed that the gunman then went to Sandy Hook where his mother worked as a teacher and began shooting near the principal’s office. The shooter then went to his mother’s kindergarten classroom and killed her and her students, according to the report.
Update: AP reports police have Ryan Lanza’s brother in custody, but unclear whether it’s just to gather information or as connected in some way.
Update: The President will speak at 3:15 p.m. at the White House, addressing the nation.
Update: With the shooter’s body inside the school, police found two handguns. One was a Sig Sauer, the other a Glock 9mm. In his vehicle, police found a .223 caliber rifle, according to CBS News reporting.
Update: Livestream of the president’s statement will be here. Connecticut Gov. Malloy will speak this afternoon, also. Flags have been ordered to half-staff at the Capitol:
Update: Fox reports they have a source saying both the shooter’s mother and father are dead.
A source told Fox News that Lanza’s mother and father, who were divorced, were also killed. It’s not clear whether Lanza’s mother, a teacher at the school, was killed there or at another location.
The official also said Ryan Lanza’s girlfriend and another friend are missing in New Jersey.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the suspect is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Update: In a second press conference, Gov. Malloy said “the perpetrator of the crime is dead as is an individual who the perpetrator lived with.”
Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police reported that 18 children were pronounced dead at the scene, two at local hospitals, and six adults were killed. There was one person injured. Vance also said there’s a secondary crime scene in Newtown with an additional “adult victim” at that scene.
Update (AP): There’s a major conflict in news reports right now. According to the New York Post, the shooter’s name is Adam Lanza, not Ryan. Ryan is his brother and is being questioned by police but, per the Post, is not a suspect. The AP, however, says it is indeed Ryan who’s the shooter and that his brother is the one who’s being questioned. Needless to say, treat every last bit of news about this story as unconfirmed for the next several hours.
And judging from my Twitter feed, it’d be wise to stay away from social media altogether.
Update (AP): At the White House, Carney wisely decides to punt the inevitable gun-control debate to next week.
Update (AP): Looks like the Post might have been right about the shooter’s identity. Cops now say the shooter was 20 and that his older brother is being questioned. Adam Lanza is the younger brother according to the NYP.
Update (AP): Fearless prediction, as Twitter fills up with angry liberals pounding the table about gun control: As the story comes out, we’ll find out that the guy responsible displayed many, many signs of mental illness over the past year or so and that they were all but ignored by virtually everyone around him.
Update (AP): Yep, even the AP is now naming Adam, not Ryan, Lanza as the shooter. If Ryan’s blameless in all this, his newly hellish existence got a bit more hellish today thanks to the media.
Reuters claims that another Lanza brother is dead at the family home.
Update (AP): The AP says three guns were found at the scene: A Glock pistol, a Sig Sauer pistol, and a .223 rifle.
Update (AP): This cuts to it:
Suffice it to say: If you think a man who killed his mother and a host of children would be constrained by a law you want, you’re a fool.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) December 14, 2012
Over the past generation: gun rights have expanded, gun ownership has dropped, and gun violence is at a 40-year low. That’s just the data.
— Joshua Treviño (@jstrevino) December 14, 2012
Update (AP): Ace is right that the typical mass murderer is a mentally-ill sad-sack loser who’s bad at work, bad with women, and who finally snaps in frustration at his own momentous loserdom. Usually it’s a break-up or a pink slip that sets him off and usually the targets are strangers. Not this time, though: The shooter’s just 20 years old and he went to the trouble of driving to his mother’s school to kill her — and 20 kids — after allegedly killing other family members at home. That’s an odd combination of specific and random targeting. What exactly was the crux of this guy’s grudge?
Update (AP): For what it’s worth:
Ryan Lanza, 24, brother of gunman Adam Lanza, 20, tells authorities that his younger brother is autistic, or has Asperger syndrome and a “personality disorder.” Neighbors described the younger man to ABC as “odd” and displaying characteristics associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Update (AP): The list. Imagine.
“The teachers wrote down the names of all the children,’’ said Monsignor. Robert Weiss, the pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown. “The ones who were unaccounted for, those parents went to another room and wrote their names on a list.”
“It was around, obviously,” he added, “the number that passed away.”
Update (AP): Nightmarish details from People magazine, who spoke to a mother of one of the students at the school:
According to the woman, the shooter, who is confirmed dead at the scene “went into the [principal’s] office, started arguing, and he killed people in the office,” before going into a classroom.
Another parent visiting the school at the time tells PEOPLE he “could hear shots in the hall and glass breaking.” And an NPR interview with one of the school’s teachers revealed that the school’s PA system was on the whole time, amplifying the shots throughout the school.
Update (AP): Against all odds, the shooting continues to get more bizarre:
The shooter, who sources identified as Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother in the face at their home in Newtown, Conn., then went to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where she taught and gunned down her entire class, according to sources…
Vance also said that a “deceased adult” was found at a “secondary crime scene,” though he declined to elaborate.
The thinking until now was that he had some sort of insane grudge against mom that led him to follow her to school, kill her in the classroom, and then open fire on the kids around her as collateral damage. Not so, if Fox’s sources are right. His mother was already dead at home before anything happened at the school. For whatever lunatic reason, after killing her he felt obliged to get in his car, drive down there, and then start shooting at kindergarteners.
The other mystery is who the “deceased adult” was at the other “secondary crime scene.” Reuters reported earlier that it was Lanza’s brother, but cops now say no. Who was it?
Update (AP): Info on the guns from Fox News, per Johnny Dollar:
Confirmed: the three guns used in the shooting were owned by shooter’s mother, per @billhemmer
— johnny dollar (@johnnydollar01) December 14, 2012
Also all three weapons were legally purchased and registered, per @bretbaier
— johnny dollar (@johnnydollar01) December 14, 2012
Update (AP): CNN backs up Fox’s report that the guns were legally purchased by Lanza’s mother, and claims that the rifle was found in the trunk of a car parked at the school. Did he only use the two pistols during his attack, or did he have the rifle out at some point before returning it to the car? And if he didn’t have it out, why not? Seems like, if you’re of a mind to commit a mass shooting, you’d want to use the biggest weapon you have.
Like Greg Pollowitz, I’m eager to hear the progressive policy solution to a nutcase stealing his law-abiding mother’s legally-bought guns.
Update (AP): I’m clicking around on Connecticut’s judicial website of gun regulations to see how many violations this guy is probably guilty of under current law. After a cursory five-minute search, I’ve got at least 10. One: Assuming mom didn’t lend him the two pistols and rifle, he’s guilty of three counts of theft. Two: He’s guilty of three counts of possessing a weapon on school grounds. Three: He may be guilty of two counts of criminal possession of a pistol or revolver. Lanza reportedly had a “checkered past” and had been a “troubled youth for most of his life.” We don’t know how checkered because his juvenile records are sealed, but if he was “convicted as delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense” then that’s two more violations, one for possessing each pistol. Four: Per NBC, concealed-carry permits aren’t granted to anyone in Connecticut under the age of 21. That means two more violations for the 20-year-old Lanza for carrying the two pistols. (You don’t need a permit to carry a rifle.) Oh, and if Wikipedia is accurate, Connecticut police are fully entitled to seize weapons in someone’s possession without a warrant if they have probable cause that the suspect is mentally unstable or likely to commit a crime. Go surf around on the gun-laws site and see what else you find. There’s probably stuff I missed.
The obvious objection to all of this is that none of these laws would have kept the guns out of Lanza’s hands. They’re all useful in prosecuting a killer after the fact, not in stopping him beforehand. In that case, what’s the solution? You can’t ban Nancy Lanza from owning a pistol; she has a constitutional right, per the Supreme Court’s Heller decision. Ban Glocks and Sig Sauers, then? Ban any family from owning more than one weapon? Ban any family from owning a weapon if the state determines that a member of the family seems a little too eccentric for comfort?
Update (AP): Mary Katharine e-mails with thoughts:
From earlier, in the second presser, Lt. Vance said two handguns were found w the body and the rifle in the car.
A couple points. If you were of a mind to go into a school w guns concealed somehow–as he might have, considering this started apparently w an altercation in the office instead of going straight to the classroom–you’d likely wanna just carry the two handguns. The rifle would limit mobility and couldn’t be concealed and the handguns would give you plenty of rounds and portability.
Also of interest, if the mom’s rifle was indeed legally purchased, that means it’s NOT an “assault weapon” unless she had it purchased and registered pre-1993. CT bans “assault weapons,” so both that fact and the fact hers likely wasn’t one makes the call for Assault Weapons Ban reinstatement pretty tendentious, right?
Update (AP): Good lord. Lanza’s father learned what his son had done … from a reporter:
“Is there something I can do for you?” he said.
When the reporter told Lanza his address had been linked to the shooting in Newtown, Conn., on the other side of Fairfield County, he “took the news as a blow — his face turning from patient to surprised and horrified” before declining to comment, rolling up his window and driving into the garage, according to the Hearst Connecticut report.