During this period, friends and family members said, Nancy Lanza disclosed little about her struggles with Adam. But on one recent occasion, she confided in Rich Collins, another friend in Newtown and father of a boy with autism. Something was bothering her, she told Collins.
"He was very sensitive to touch and didn't want to be touched," Collins said of Adam. "That used to hurt her. She would get upset about that."
Asked about the Asperger's experience, the person close to Peter Lanza said Adam's father found it challenging.
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Newtown, CT, USA
Family With Firearms
Adam was exposed to guns at an early age and he continued to shoot at target ranges with his mother through his late teens, friends and other sources said. Shooting weapons was something Peter and Nancy Lanza did with their children dating to the early days in Kingston.
But after the killings, investigators would focus on Adam Lanza's involvement with firearms and his immersion in the video-game culture as they tried to unravel the riddle of Lanza's last two years.
Nancy Lanza purchased four firearms between 2010 and 2012, according to law enforcement sources. During that time, she told a friend, landscaper Dan Holmes of Newtown, that she took both sons target shooting at a gun range.
"She said she took her kids target shooting, that they bonded over that," said Holmes, who planted flower beds and tended the 2 acres surrounding Nancy and Peter Lanza's $500,000 home.
Since the Sandy Hook shootings, officials from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives have visited gun stores where Nancy Lanza is believed to have purchased the weapons, as well as gun ranges where she is believed to have shot with Adam. An ATF official told The Courant in December that the agency doesn't believe either Nancy or Adam Lanza engaged in target shooting over the previous six months.
Mark Tambascio, owner of the My Place Pizza & Restaurant in Newtown, which Nancy Lanza frequented, and a friend of hers since 1999, said a retired police officer instructed Nancy in the use of her firearms.
"She really took to it," Tambascio said. "I grew up target shooting myself and so we talked a little bit about it."
Holmes, the landscaper, recalled a spring day a couple of years ago when Nancy had retrieved a beautifully crafted rifle in a case from her home and proudly displayed it to him.
"I could appreciate the craftsmanship," Holmes said.
The target shooting "was definitely her outlet. She really talked enthusiastically about it," Holmes said.
After the massacre at Sandy Hook, friends said, Nancy Lanza has been unfairly portrayed as a "gun nut" when, in fact, she enjoyed shooting firearms as a hobby and used the activity to bond with her sons.
"She's been described as some sort of survivalist, or a prepper who was preparing for the government and the economy crumbling, which was simply not the case," Bergquist said.
But other friends are now questioning Nancy Lanza's decision to expose Adam to firearms.
Tambascio said he didn't know that Adam had accompanied his mother to the shooting ranges.
He said that if he had known, "I may have had a little bit to say about that."
Holmes said that although he worked for Lanza for several years, she never let him in the house — something other friends had reported as well. Her home was renovated after sustaining damage in the heavy snows of 2010 and 2011, and her My Place buddies were hoping to get an invitation.