Club members said they would gather at one another’s houses to link their laptops and play games at LAN parties, named for the local area network that connected their computers. According to club members, Adam played “Star Craft” and “War Craft III: Reign of Chaos,” in which, as the manufacturer puts it, a dark “shadow has fallen over the world, threatening to extinguish all life — all hope.”
Adam once hosted a LAN party, according to Gloria Milas, whose son Joshua sometimes played computer games with Adam.
In class, Adam did his work and said little or nothing. He left Newtown High during 10th grade, never to return, peers said. Adam finished high school through self-study at home, graduating in 2009. That year, at age 16, he began taking courses at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
Adam took six classes at the college in 2008 and 2009, in history, computer science and German. His grades were good — A’s and B’s for a 3.26 average — but he made little impression on his professors and left campus without having grown close to anyone there.
Cutting some family ties
Adam left school around the time his parents finalized their divorce. His father, Peter Lanza, a vice president of taxes at GE Energy Financial Services, had moved out of the Newtown house in 2001; in 2009, the parents completed the state-required mediation and parenting classes.
An acquaintance who spent time in the Lanzas’ house around the time of the divorce described the breakup as friendly and respectful, without visible rancor.
“They always stayed civil,” said Marsha Lanza, who is married to Peter Lanza’s brother Michael. “They always stayed friends.”
Nancy, who had worked as a stockbroker in Boston before she had children, got the house and alimony that started at $240,000 a year and rose over six years to about $300,000 — well more than half of Peter’s gross salary. The couple agreed that Adam would live with his mother, who would have final say on decisions regarding his education and care, just as she had during the Lanzas’ years of separation.
The father, who saw Adam regularly on weekends during the years of separation, remarried in 2010, to a librarian at the University of Connecticut. Friends and relatives said Adam cut off contact with his father and his brother, Ryan, around that time.
Adam hadn’t spoken to his father or older brother in at least two years, according to the source who has been in touch with the Lanza family last week. Peter and Ryan Lanza have not publicly responded to reporters’ questions.
Alone with each other in a big house with a pool on two acres, mother and son struggled over issues of independence, friends said. In 2010, Adam got a driver’s license but did not go out by himself often.
Nancy remained dedicated to Adam, catering to his heightened sensitivities.
“I believe she thought she had it under control,” Marsha Lanza said. “I believe if the kid needed help, she would have gotten it, because that’s who she was. They had the money. She had time because she was a stay-at-home mom. She wasn’t afraid to be there for her kids. She was involved. That’s why when I heard that he shot her, that floored me. Your mom did all this stuff for you; what the hell were you thinking? Why did you take your revenge out on her? What did she do? So there’s something I don’t know or I’m missing.”
Adam would sometimes “isolate himself,” Nancy’s friend Ellen Adriani told NBC News. “One time he was ill, and he just didn’t want her in the room. So she stayed outside all night on the carpet of his bedroom. He periodically would say: ‘Are you there? Are you there?’ And she’d always say, ‘Yes, I’m here.’ So he wanted her there to some degree, but not in his exact, immediate space.”
Adam — 5-foot-10 and thin, with blue eyes, according to his driver’s license — had become a vegan and insisted on eating organic food. Family friends said he was politically conservative, although he was the one member of his immediate family not registered to vote. He developed impressive speed and moves on the arcade game “Dance Dance Revolution,” which he would play at a local game store, sometimes drawing a clot of onlookers. But if a stranger tried to join him in what is usually a two-person game, Adam would walk away from the machine and out of the store.
In the past couple of years, Nancy searched for ways to get Adam out of the house, away from the vast collection of violent video games he kept in one of his two bedrooms. One of those rooms was in the basement, not far from the lockbox where Nancy kept her firearms — at least five of them, all purchased legally, all obtained after her divorce.
An acquaintance who spent time in the Lanza house in earlier years said he had seen no sign of guns or interest in weaponry at that point.
The weapons were for “self-defense,” said Marsha Lanza. “She lived alone. She was a female, lived alone.”