A computer whiz who kept much to himself

Jeanne Walker of Newtown walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Jeanne Walker of Newtown walks through an overflowing memorial to the shooting victims in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (Seth Wenig)
Posted: December 24, 2012

NEWTOWN, Conn. - As the nation paused to mark a week since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, new details emerged about the gunman, Adam Lanza, who acquaintances said was able to take apart and reassemble a computer in a matter of minutes but rarely spoke to anyone.

In high school, Lanza used to slither through the hallways, awkwardly pressing himself against the wall while wearing the same green shirt and khaki pants every day. He hardly ever talked to classmates and once gave a presentation entirely by computer, never uttering a single word.

"As long as I knew him, he never really spoke," said Daniel Frost, who took a computer class with Lanza and remembered his skill with electronics.

Frost recalled that Lanza once made a class presentation about how to change the folders in Microsoft Windows different colors. He did it without saying a word, just demonstrating the steps on a screen.

Lanza seemed to spend most of his time in his own large space in the basement of the home he shared with his mother - the same basement where she kept a collection of guns, said Russell Ford, a friend of Nancy Lanza's who had done chimney and pipe work on the house.

Just over a week ago, Lanza fatally shot his mother before blasting his way into the school, killing 20 children and six adults with a military-style rifle. As police approached, he used a handgun to commit suicide.

Nancy Lanza was often seen around town and regularly chatted up friends and acquaintances at a restaurant, but her 20-year-old son was a mysterious figure who was seldom spotted in this community of rolling hills and clapboard Colonial homes, according to Ford and other townspeople.

The basement of the Lanza home was fully carpeted and had artwork, including a picture of a horse, on the walls. There was a computer, a flat-screen television, couches, and an elaborate setup for video games. Nancy Lanza kept her guns in what appeared to be a secure case in another part of the basement, Ford said.

"She was from gun culture. Live free or die. That was truly her upbringing," said Ford, who often met the New Hampshire native and other friends at a regular Tuesday gathering at My Place, a local restaurant.

Ford did not know whether Lanza took her son shooting.

Over the last year and a half, Ford said, Nancy Lanza had told him that she planned to move out West and enroll Adam in a "school or a center." The plan started unfolding after Adam turned 18.

"He wouldn't be dwelling with her," said Ford, who remembered that Adam Lanza never spoke to him or even made eye contact.

"She knew she needed to be near him," he added. "She was trying to do what was positive for him."

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