The mother of Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza who slaughtered 20 US schoolchildren and seven adults was a gun-hoarding survivalist who was stockpiling weapons in preparation for an economic collapse, it has emerged.
Nancy Lanza was shot four times in the head before her son Adam gunned down young pupils and teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Her sister-in-law Marsha Lanza told reporters at her Illinois home that her gun-obsessed relative was part of the ‘prepper’ movement that fears an economic collapse will lead to a breakdown in society.
“She prepared for the worst,” Ms Lanza said.
“Last time we visited her in person, we talked about prepping — are you ready for what could happen down the line, when the economy collapses?”
Nancy Lanza (52) had five registered firearms, had begun stockpiling food and taught Adam how to shoot. He is believed to have used three of her guns — a Bushmaster .223-calibre, and two handguns, a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9mm — in the school massacre after he shot her dead in bed.
After taking her car, Adam Lanza (20) blasted his way into the school building in Newtown, Connecticut and used a high-power rifle to kill 20 children and six adults, including the principal and school psychologist who tried to stop him. The youngest victims were six and seven, the oldest 56.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said Lanza shot himself after about 10 minutes of shooting as first responders entered the building.
A law enforcement official said Lanza — said to be addicted to violent video games — had “lots of ammo” on him when he died, enough to carry out significant additional carnage. During the rampage Lanza wiped out a first class of six and seven-year-olds and their two teachers.
“There were 14 coats hanging there and 14 bodies. He killed them all,” a law enforcement officer said.
Governor Malloy added in a TV interview: “We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life.”
All the victims at the school were shot with a rifle, at least some of them at close range, and all were apparently shot more than once, said Chief Medical Examiner Dr H Wayne Carver. There were as many as 11 shots on the bodies he examined.
All six adults killed at the school were women. Of the 20 children, eight were boys and 12 were girls.
Parents identified the children through photos to spare them some shock, Carver said.
Amid the confusion and sorrow, stories of heroism emerged, including an account of Hochsprung, 47, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 56, rushing toward Lanza in an attempt to stop him. Both died.
There was also 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, whose name has been invoked as a portrait of selflessness. Investigators told relatives she was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger. She reportedly hid some students in a bathroom or closet, ensuring they were safe, a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.
The gunman's father, Peter Lanza, issued a statement relating his own family's anguish in the aftermath.
“Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are,” he said. “We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.”
Richard Novia, the school district's head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the Newtown High School technology club, of which Lanza was a member, said he clearly “had some disabilities”.