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Investigators Probe For Insight Into Newtown Gunman’s Mind

Adam Lanza seen in 2005 at the age of 13. (Credit: CBS News)

Adam Lanza seen in 2005 at the age of 13. (Credit: CBS News)

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NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Along with the arduous task of going over crime scenes, police Saturday morning were trying to gain insight into the killer.

The New York Times reported Saturday morning that Adam Lanza, 20, was socially awkward and was known in high school as “intelligent, but nervous and fidgety, spitting his words out, as if having to speak up were painful.”

In middle school, Lanza carried a black briefcase instead of a backpack, and button-down shirts while his classmates carried a briefcase, people he knew recalled.

1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels Reports

The Times reported Lanza did not have a Facebook page and did not pose for a high school yearbook picture.

Several people also told the newspaper that Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.

“He was really quiet. He kept to himself,” said Alex Israel, a high school classmate of Adam Lanza’s, speaking to “Piers Morgan Tonight.” “I mean he was a little fidgety, a little uneasy sometimes if you were just to look at him. I that he was just socially not really into going out there and making as many friends as everyone was really doing in elementary school and middle school. He preferred to stay to himself.”

Martha Markowitz remembers Lanza too, because she used to be his school bus driver.

“He was a nice kid; very polite,” she told 1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels.

Markowitz was shocked to hear it was Lentz who shot 20 people and seven others to death before taking his own life.

“It’s a shock to even know them and realize who they are, and what he did,” she said.

As CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported, police were hoping Saturday that relatives could give them some clues as to why it all happened.

Ann Marie Merlo said her sons went to school with the shooter, and she was sickened at the carnage he left behind.

“I don’t think any of us has taken it in yet. There’s little spurts that, when I start watching the TV again, it’s little spurts.”

The questions mounted as the normally idyllic streets of Newtown were darkened by the presence of police tape, squad cars and the murder scene at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It’s brutal,” said Tom Haitz. “You want to think you live in a nice happy town and then something like this pops up.”

“Something like this” was Lanza, who first killed his mother, Nancy, in the home they shared, then driving her car to the elementary school and opening fire on two classrooms – killing 20 children and eight adults.

Haitz’s wife is a substitute teacher at the school, but was not there on Friday.

“She knew everybody,” Haitz said. “She’s just in tears back at the house.”

Tears, no doubt, were what Lanza’s father, Peter, was shedding inside his Stamford home, where there was another police presence. The divorced man remarried and lived there, and was preparing Saturday for two funerals.

1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten Reports From Hoboken

“This boy’s dad who knows what’s going on in his mind,” said Mary Battinelli of Stamford. “You know he didn’t do it his son did it.”

And who knows what was going through the mind of Lanza’s older brother, Ryan. He was led away in handcuffs Friday by police in Hoboken, who wanted to know if he knew anything about the plot or if he had any insight into the mind of his brother.

But the 24-year-old told police he didn’t have any contact with his little brother, and was released Friday night.

“I can only imagine losing family members so close to you in such a horrible situation,” said Kristen Gibson, who lives in the same Hoboken building as Ryan Lanza. “It’s just terrible, and to think that somebody so close to what happened lives right here in my own building. It’s just terrible.”

The family connection to the massacre in Connecticut had neighbors shaking their heads in shock.

“It’s so close to home,” said neighbor Michael Chipchase. “You see it on the TV, you don’t think it’s going to happen anywhere near you, but it does. It brings it home.”

Given reports that Adam Lanza had little relationship with his father or brother, authorities believe he might have taken his motive to his grave.

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