There have been a lot of factual errors in the chaotic rush to get details about today’s shooting in Connecticut. But one fact that seemed established across the board was that victim Nancy Lanza, the mother of alleged shooter Adam Lanza, was a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School — specifically that it was her class that Adam Lanza massacred.
But this story just out in the Journal suggests that’s not true.Oddly, it’s buried down at the bottom of the story, almost as an afterthought …
A former school board official in Newtown called into question earlier reports that Nancy Lanza had been connected to Sandy Hook Elementary School, possibly as part of the teaching staff.
“No one has heard of her,” said Lillian Bittman, who served on the local school board until 2011. “Teachers don’t know her.”
It’s mentioned so offhandedly. And this apparent fact was so widely reported that I’m still wondering if I’m misreading these two grafs. But it seems hard to read it any other way.
As embarrassing as it for news organizations to get facts wrong on a story like this (and I’m proud of how our staff held back on a number of ‘facts’ today that turned out to be wrong), we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a great deal of confusion in such a chaotic situation. But this would seem to upend even our tentative understanding of the motive for the massacre itself.
Late Update: The story still up on the Times website suggests otherwise but in a much less specific way …
His mother, Nancy, kept their home in Newtown, a prosperous, hilly enclave of spacious, newer homes about five miles from the elementary school where she taught kindergarten. Adam Lanza is thought to have been living in the house, too.
Later Update: The Post also still identifies her as a teacher at the school in a piece timestamped less than an hour ago …
His parents, Nancy and Peter Lanza, separated about a decade ago, and his mother, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook, remained in the family’s home with her sons, Adam and Ryan Lanza, according Ryan Kraft, now 25, who was a neighbor.
Still Later Update: In itself I would not see it as dispositive. But the Newtown School District website does not list Lanza as a teacher or administrator in the district school system.
Later Update #5: Here we seem to be getting a bit more of a handle on the origins of this. According to the AP, the origin of Lanza’s alleged tie to the school seems tenuous …
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to the place.
At least one parent said Lanza’s mother was a substitute teacher there. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the law enforcement official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.