Behind Adam Lanza

On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza shot his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where he killed twenty children and six adults before taking his own life.

Twenty year old Lanza has been described by those who knew him as extremely intelligent and shy but very awkward. One of his former classmates referred to him as Goth because he always wore black and was dark and dreary. He had very little interaction with his fellow classmates and was considered an outcast by many people.

“He was a shy kid, quiet,” said Alan Diaz who knew Lanza several years ago. “He would sometimes stand in the corner. We knew he was socially awkward and we just accepted it. But he was never threatening.”

One of Lanza’s aunts, Marsha, also described him as a “quiet, nice kid” who had issues with learning, she said. Her husband is Lanza’s paternal uncle.

“He was definitely the challenge of the family in that house. Every family has one,” she told CNN affiliate WLS. “They have one. I have one. But never in trouble with the law, never in trouble with anything.”

Related: Gunman Went To College At 16: Classmates Called Him “Quiet”

Lanza came from a very wealthy family and lived with his mother in her Connecticut mansion. Both of his parents were devoted to their children, his father even paid more child support than required because he knew it would take more to care for his son.

His mother was very dedicated to her son who either suffered from a personality disorder or Aspergers. She even stopped working to care for her disturbed twenty year old son.

Lanza’s mom knew that her son was dangerous at an early age. When he was younger she warned his babysitter not to turn his back on her son, not for one moment. Even knowing that he was disturbed she kept unlocked guns in her home, which he used to go on his killing spree.

Autism Diagnoses

according to CNN, a relative told investigators that Lanza had a form of autism.

But a national autism committee cautioned against speculating about a link between autism and violence.

“Autism is not a mental health disorder — it is a neurodevelopmental disorder,” said the Autism Research Institute’s Autistic Global Initiative Project. “The eyes of the world are on this wrenching tragedy — with 1 in 88 now diagnosed, misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice and misunderstanding.”

A former classmate told CNN affiliate WCBS that Lanza “was just a kid” — not a troublemaker.

“I don’t know who would do anything like this,” the ex-classmate said, before walking away distraught. “This is unspeakable.”

Lanza’s father was also at a loss for explanation. He sent his condolences to the families of victims in a statement released Saturday.

“Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy,” Peter Lanza said. “No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can.”

At this time there is no suicide note and no reason for why Lanza decided to kill his mother who loved him deeply and twenty-six people on that fateful Friday.

How You Can Help

(information gathered from CNN)

As the community reels, organizations are setting up ways to help through donations and support.

An official fund for victims’ families, and the community as a whole, has now been established: The Sandy Hook School Support Fund, set up by the United Way of Western Connecticut will provide support services to families and the community. All donations to this fund will go directly to those affected.

The Red Cross has also been on the ground, offering food and water to affected families and first responders, and providing more than 50 units of blood to Danbury hospital where some of the victims were transported. They have set up a center for emergency grief counseling – and more than 100 Red Cross workers, including mental health professionals, are on the ground in Newtown helping to support the community. The Red Cross stresses it has what it needs to support efforts in Newtown, and is asking that those wishing to donate to families and the community, direct their contributions to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

In addition, the nonprofit mental health clinic Newtown Youth and Family Services is providing counseling for families, community members and school staff. They say no appointments are needed and those needing help may walk in. All donations made to them at this time will go to helping those impacted.

The Newtown Parent Connection has also pledged to try and bring in extra counselors to help parents cope.

Some private funds have also been set up in the wake of the tragedy to help victims. The Newtown Memorial fund is taking donations for the families and community affected, and is also actively recruiting volunteers and offers of help of all kinds. Facebook pages have also been set up to help the families of Emilie Parker (6), Olivia Rose Engel (6), and Noah Pozner (6), who were killed at Sandy Hook.

The band OneRepublic has also started a fund to raise money for those affected. You can find details on how to donate to OneRepublic’s fund here.

The organization ‘Lutheran Church Charities’ has sent a team of ‘comfort dogs’ to the community. Chewie, Barnabas, Hannah and others will be visiting schoolchildren, attending funerals and memorial services, and will be at the memorial area. You can donate to help support the dogs’ visit to Newtown here.

For families from the Newtown area, and even beyond, a pressing problem will be how to help children cope with the aftermath of this tragedy — and indeed how to give parents space to grieve, knowing their children are being looked after. To that end, Save The Children has opened a “child-friendly space” in Newtown to give kids a place to play and express themselves while parents seek support or counseling. The space is located in Newtown’s Reed Intermediate School, where students of Sandy Hook elementary go after graduating.

In addition, Save The Children has released 10 tips for parents wondering how to help their children deal with their feelings about such a traumatic event, such as spending extra time with your kids, and limiting TV time.

A number of other organizations, such as the National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have released recommendations for parents and teachers as to how to support children if they want to talk about what happened.

The US Postal Service has added a PO Box for those who wish to send letters of condolence to the residents of Newtown. Please address mail to: Message of Condolence, PO Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470.

You can also send words of support and messages for families affected in an evergram here. They will be collated and given to the families in the future.

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection says anyone wishing to volunteer should call 211 or (800) 203-1234.