Unsealed FBI files of the investigation into the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School show that Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old man who killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012, was obsessed with mass shootings and displayed what now look like clear warning signs that he was capable of extreme violence.
The documents also reveal that FBI agents commended Lanza’s intelligence while investigating him for hacking into a government computer when he was a freshman in high school.
According to a report from the case files obtained by the New York Daily News, “the authorities told [Lanza’s mother] that if her son was that smart, he could have a job with them someday.”
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Witnesses who spoke to investigators after the deadly shooting reportedly said that Lanza had displayed bizarre and disturbing behavior in the months leading up to the attack.
Lanza was “the weirdest person online,” said a female friend who reportedly met him on a website devoted to the Columbine High School massacre.
According to the report’s summary of the interview, “[Lanza] was singularly focused and obsessed with mass murders … Lanza devoted almost all his internet activity to researching and discussing mass murders and spree killings.
“Lanza spoke about school killings and those who committed them with respect and understanding.”
Lanza’s online activities stand in sharp contract with those of Stephen Paddock, the gunman behind the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1. Authorities have said that Paddock’s profile is in many significant ways atypical of someone who would commit such an act, having apparently left no digital footprint suggesting violent inclinations or extreme beliefs that can precipitate symbolic mass killings.
But with Lanza, the warning signs had been present for years. As a young teenager, he reportedly hacked into a government agency computer and passed two levels of security before authorities detected the breach. When the FBI visited Lanza’s home, his mother Nancy reportedly had to convince them “that her son was just very intelligent and was challenging himself to see if he could hack (his way in).” That’s when an agent reportedly said that Lanza could have a future in federal law enforcement if he was “smart.”
Lanza shot his mother on December 14, 2012, before heading to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where his mother used to work and where Lanza had attended as a child. After he shot and killed dozens of students and teachers, Lanza took his own life before authorities apprehended him.
A neighbor reportedly described Nancy Lanza to investigators as a “gun nut.” And another witness reportedly told investigators that Lanza had threatened to kill his mother and attack the elementary school.
The gunman had reportedly become increasingly reclusive in the months leading up to the shooting, essentially locking himself in his room and cutting himself off from almost all personal interaction, including online.
And though Adam completely shut out his mother and insisted she never even come into his room, she still tried to get through to him, and was planning to move with him to Seattle the following year for a change of scenery she thought might benefit her son.
“Nancy … had spent her life caring for Adam and would not give up on him,” a friend told the FBI.
[Feature photo: Handout]