Clashing Reports Obscured Connecticut Shooter’s Identity

December 14, 2012 1:42 pm

Details about the shooter in Friday’s horrific mass murder at an elementary school in Connecticut began to come out in bits and often conflicting pieces over the course of the afternoon.Officials in Connecticut have confirmed that 27 people were killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which occurred in two rooms in one section of the school. Among the dead were 20 children, six adults, and the shooter. Another person was killed at what police called a “secondary scene” at a residence in Newtown. One additional person was injured in the incident at the school.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) told reporters that one of the victims was “an individual who the perpetrator lived with.” At the same press conference, State Police Lt. Paul Vance said authorities in Connecticut were also receiving assistance from authorities in New Jersey.

That information has been publicly confirmed.

Over the course of day, media outlets, often citing anonymous law enforcement sources, offered additional information about the person who committed the massacre.

According to The New York Times, the gunman walked into a classroom at the school where his mother was a teacher. The mother has been identified, by the Associated Press and others, as Nancy Lanza. But the identity of which of her sons committed the crime, if it was in fact one of her sons, remained unclear until late in the day.

A few hours after the incident, it was widely reported that Ryan Lanza, 24, was the gunman. His Facebook profile began to circulate on Twitter. On Facebook, Lanza’s location was listed as Hoboken, N.J. and his hometown was listed as Newtown, details that matched the early reports about the suspect. But soon after Ryan Lanza’s name surfaced, people who were Facebook friends with Lanza posted on Twitter screen grabs of non-public messages written Friday on his Facebook page, in which Ryan Lanza appeared to deny being the shooter. “Fuck you CNN it wasn’t me,” said one message, according to one screen grab. “Everyone shut the fuck up it wasn’t me,” Lanza, a former Quinnipiac University student, apparently wrote in another. Later in the day, Fox News reported that police investigators were on scene outside a Hoboken address associated with Lanza.

But by early evening, a source was telling the AP that Ryan Lanza was not believed to have any involvement. Instead, Ryan Lanza’s 20-year-old brother, Adam Lanza, was being identified as the shooter. One law enforcement source told the AP that Adam Lanza had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that Ryan Lanza was being questioned by police. The confusion had occurred, according to the AP, after a law enforcement official “mistakenly transposed the brothers’ first names.” According to the AP, Ryan Lanza had been “extremely cooperative” with law enforcement, and had told officials he had not been in touch with his brother since 2010. A second law enforcement official told the AP that Nancy Lanza was presumed dead.

A home on Yagananda St. in Sandy Hook, a village of Newtown, is associated with Nancy Lanza, Ryan Lanza, and Adam Lanza, as well as with Peter Lanza. Connecticut court records show that Nancy Lanza and Peter Lanza divorced in 2009. Late Friday afternoon, CNN reported on air that Nancy Lanza had been killed in a home in Newtown.

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