Beth Israel, who lived for a time on the same street as the Lanzas, recalled Adam Lanza as withdrawn, but not threatening in any way.
“Overall, I would just call him a socially awkward kid, I don’t know, shy and quiet. Didn’t really look you in the eye,” Israel said in a telephone interview Friday night. “Just kind of a weird kid, maybe. I can’t tell you any specific incidents why [I thought so],” she said.
But there was still something that troubled her about Adam Lanza. When Israel heard that Ryan Lanza — Adam’s brother — had been described by law enforcement sources as the shooter, she felt they had the wrong brother: “It has to be Adam, not Ryan,” Israel wrote on Twitter.
Police described the school itself as one of the most horrific crime scenes that many had ever encountered, and officials said the first-arriving responders would be given counseling.
Children who were evacuated from the school said later that they had been told to keep their eyes closed until they were outside.
Police said that as the day went on, they had accounted for every child who attended the school, tracking down even those who were absent because of illness. All had been accounted for, they said.
Perhaps the closest echo of this rampage, in the dark history of American massacres, might be a 1989 shooting in Stockton, Calif., where a drifter with an assault rifle opened fire on a schoolyard. Five children died, and 29 others were wounded before the gunman killed himself.
That episode served as a catalyst for a string of laws restricting the use and importation of assault weapons.
The guns used in Friday’s shootings were believed to have been purchased legally, and registered to a family member of Adam Lanza’s, a law enforcement source said.
Police said they were summoned to the school by a number of 911 calls. Both state and local police converged on the school, according to Connecticut State Police Lt. L. Paul Vance, and “began a complete active shooter search of the building.”
Meredith Artley, managing editor of CNN.com, described interviewing a woman who was at the school about 9:30 or 9:35 a.m. The woman was in a meeting with the principal, vice principal and school psychologist when they heard shots from the hall. The three school officials went into the hallway, and the vice principal came crawling back, shot in the foot, Artley said.
The witness, who was not identified but has a 7-year-old at the school, told Artley that she later passed the principal and the psychologist lying in the hallway, surrounded by pools of blood.