In posts on gun message boards and gaming chat rooms, a user who authorities believe was Newtown gunman Adam Lanza showed a technical prowess about weapons and computers, a “fetish” for a certain bullet and a near-fixation with correcting Wikipedia articles about mass killers.
He would have been 17 years old at the time of the posts, which are being examined by investigative agencies. The posts linked to Lanza reflect his interests and thoughts, publicly revealed for the first time in the killer’s own words.
Although Lanza did not use his name, investigators linked the poster’s user name to Lanza, according to sources familiar with the probe of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The same user name appears in the Wikipedia edits, discovered by The Courant. A Wikipedia spokesman said the website could not identify the poster, citing privacy policies. Investigators are now looking into whether the same person did the Wikipedia editing.
The poster who authorities suspect is Lanza questions Connecticut’s assault-gun ban, offers a blueprint for his laptop computer and provides YouTube links to a commercial for a laughing doll from the 1970s and for The Rock-afire Explosion, an animatronics band that played in ShowBiz Pizza locations in the 1980s.
In one thread on the website thehighroad.org in October 2009 at 1 a.m., the poster believed to be Lanza asks whether a ban on a certain semiautomatic pistol might extend to other weapons.
Another poster suggests that he ask the Connecticut State Police.
"I always prefer asking through proxy when I can avoid speaking to someone directly. I was just wondering if anyone knew because I have a fetish for .32 ACP," the poster suspected to be Lanza responds, referring to ammunition.
The posts reveal an intense and well-developed interest in high-capacity weaponry and an almost obsessive attention to details both in the user’s own writing and his editing of articles about mass murder.
Shunning normal abbreviations and quips in chat-room speak, the poster writes in unemotional academic tones about his step-by-step “build” of his laptop computer and asks detailed questions about the modification of certain firearms.
"In Connecticut, fully automatic firearms are legal to own but selective fire is prohibited," one August 2009 post states. "I vaguely recall reading … about a company which alters them to fire exclusively automatically (or something in that vein), but I don’t know how that process works. For example, with whom would I correspond to modify a Title II M2 Carbine that is currently in another state to fire fully automatically before it is sent to Connecticut?"
Between August 2009 and February 2010, the same user name linked to Lanza made revisions to 12 Wikipedia entries about massacres across the world during the same 2009 to 2010 time frame as the gun website and gaming chat-room posts.
One entry meticulously specifies the weapons Kip Kinkel used at the age of 15 to kill his parents before going on a shooting spree at his Oregon high school, where two were killed and 25 were wounded in May 1998.
A revision involving the Sept. 13, 2006, shooting at Dawson College in Montreal, in which one student was killed and 19 others wounded, is quite particular about how the article posted on Wikipedia describes the firearm used by the killer.
" ‘9mm’ was listed as ‘.9mm.’ People say that 9mm is anemic, but this is ridiculous," the poster believed to be Lanza says in explaining his revision.
The poster also revised entries about the October 1991 massacre at Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, in which 23 were killed and 20 more injured and the 1988 massacre at ESL Inc., a high-technology software manufacturing company in Sunnyvale, Calif. The gunman at ESL, Richard Farley, killed seven people and wounded four others.
The poster believed to be Lanza delves deeply into Wikipedia’s account of the ESL shooting, revising it on at least four occasions in February 2010 and adding such details as the caliber and manufacturer of weapons in Farley’s arsenal.
There are striking similarities between the ESL massacre and the Sandy Hook shooting more than 20 years later. Farley, carrying more than a thousand rounds of ammunition on a vest and wearing earplugs, shot through the glass of a door of ESL, gunning down employees as he encountered them in the building.
The poster suspected to be Lanza also corrected Wikipedia entries about mass shootings at shopping centers, including the Sello mall massacre in a town near the Finnish capital of Helsinki in December 2009 that left four people dead, and the Westroads mall shooting in Omaha, Neb., in December 2007, in which a man with a rifle opened fire at the busy mall, killing eight people before taking his own life.
Lanza shot his mother four times in the head with a .22 rifle. Her body was found in her bed. He then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary, put in earplugs, loaded hundreds of rounds of ammunition into his military vest and shot his way through the glass windows at the front entrance.
In all, Lanza fired 154 shots, killings 20 first-graders and six women. Lanza fatally shot himself with a handgun as police were entering the building.
The suspected interest of Lanza in the Wikipedia massacre articles is consistent with evidence police found inside the Lanza home.
During a search of Lanza’s room and other parts of the house, police found a New York Times article about the mass murder at Northern Illinois University in 2008, in which five people were killed and 21 injured when a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall.
Law enforcement sources have told The Courant that police also found news articles in the Lanza home about Norway mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011.
What investigators believe to be Lanza’s online persona exposes a different dimension from what evidence suggests was an isolated lifestyle from age 17 on. The poster seems engaged with others online and is often helpful when comfortable with the topic, such as suggesting a particular firearm for someone in the chat room who said he was 18 and looking for a rifle as a gift. The poster recommends a semiautomatic rifle that “can be found for under $650.”
In the virtual world, the poster appears to have some stature. On the gun websites, the poster believed to be Lanza operates as an equal with others on the website who appear to be older, seasoned firearms experts.
The poster also was not shy about starting a debate online, asking in chat rooms on glocktalk.com in April 2009 whether adding RAM to a computer increases its speed.
"Am I just an inattentive philistine or has additional RAM in a computer which was not already deprived of it never helped any of you?" the poster asks.
The poster appears to be part of a video gaming “clan,” communicating with the others through myshoutbox.com in February 2010. At one point, some fellow gamers appear to be lamenting the departure of the poster, and of others, from the clan.
"I know," said one person in March 2010, referring to the poster believed to be Lanza and two others. They "set the clan apart from all other clans."
Another poster said, “Same. It’s just not the same without them.”
The posts suspected to be Lanza’s stop abruptly in late February 2010.
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