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Gunman’s mother kept trials of home life hidden


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Investigators said Sunday that Nancy Lanza visited shooting ranges several times and that her son also visited an area range.

Ginger Colburn, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said it’s still not clear whether Nancy Lanza brought her son to the range or whether he ever fired a weapon there.

At a glance

ATF: Gunman, mother visited shooting range

Investigators say school shooter Adam Lanza visited an area shooting range but have not concluded whether he actually practiced shooting there.

Ginger Colburn, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, would not identify the shooting range in question or say how recently he was there.

She says investigators have concluded that Lanza’s mother, Nancy, visited shooting ranges several times.

Colburn says it’s still not clear whether Nancy Lanza brought her son to the range or whether he ever fired a weapon there.

Authorities say Lanza shot his mother in the head four times, then drove to an elementary school with enough ammunition to kill every student. He killed 26 people, then shot himself as police arrived.

Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press

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Marsha Lanza told the Chicago Sun-Times that Nancy Lanza wanted guns for protection. "She prepared for the worst," Marsha Lanza told the newspaper. "I didn’t know that they (the guns) would be used on her."

Guns were her hobby," Dan Holmes, who got to know Lanza while doing landscaping work for her, told The Washington Post. "She told me she liked the single-mindedness of shooting."

But while trips to shooting ranges gave Lanza an outlet, she returned home to the ever-present challenges of raising a son with intractable problems.

At Newtown High School, Adam Lanza was often having crises that only his mother could defuse.

"He would have an episode, and she’d have to return or come to the high school and deal with it," said Richard Novia, the school district’s head of security until 2008, who got to know the family because both Lanza sons joined the school technology club he chartered.

Novia said Adam Lanza would sometimes withdraw completely "from whatever he was supposed to be doing," whether it was sitting in class or reading a book.

Adam Lanza "could take flight, which I think was the big issue, and it wasn’t a rebellious or defiant thing," Novia said. "It was withdrawal."

The club gave the boy a place where he could be more at ease and indulge his interest in computers. His anxieties appeared to ease somewhat, but they never disappeared. When people approached him in the hallways, he would press himself against the wall or walk in a different direction, clutching tight to his black briefcase.


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Marsha Lanza described Nancy Lanza as a good mother.

"If he had needed consulting, she would have gotten it," Marsha Lanza said. "Nancy wasn’t one to deny reality."

But friends and neighbors said Lanza never spoke about the difficulties of raising her son. Mostly she noted how smart he was and that she hoped, even with his problems, that he’d find a way to succeed.

"We never talked about the family," John Tambascio said. "She just came in to have a great time."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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