By Mark Shuman
Special to the Tribune
9:01 PM CST, December 15, 2012
The aunt of the suspected gunman in the school slayings in Connecticut said Saturday that her family is shocked and grieving with the rest of the country.
"Like you, we want to know why," Marsha Lanza of Crystal Lake said. "My heart goes out to all the families."
Marsha Lanza is the sister-in-law of Nancy Lanza, who was slain Friday. Nancy Lanza's son, Adam, is the suspect in the mass shootings and took his life, authorities say.
A tearful Marsha spoke to reporters Saturday outside her home. Her husband, Michael, is the brother of Adam Lanza's father, Peter, she said.
Marsha said her husband was working in North Carolina and trying to catch a flight home. He last saw Adam in June, she said.
Adam, 20, had been taking college courses, Marsha said.
"He was very bright, very brilliant," she said. "I guess he was what you might call a computer geek."
Marsha called her sister-in-law "self-reliant. The only reason she would have guns was for self-defense."
Nancy was 52 and grew up on a farm in New Hampshire, Lanza said, adding that Nancy was familiar with firearms.
Nancy and her former husband, Peter, would have gotten help for Adam if they ever suspected he was violent, Marsha said.
"She never felt threatened," Marsha said. "She was a very loving, maternal person."
Marsha said she had rekindled an email relationship with Nancy over the past several months and been aware that Adam had attempted to work through "learning issues" during his grade-school years and beyond.
Nancy faced challenges working out an education plan with school officials for Adam during his grade-school years, Marsha said.
"At some point she took him out of school and home-schooled him," she said.
Marsha thinks Adam may once have attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where the shooting took place Friday morning.
"As soon as I heard the name of the school I had a gut feeling that the family was involved," Marsha said.
Before full details of the story became known Friday, Marsha said she frantically emailed her sister-in-law, asking: "Is this your neighborhood? Is this your school?"
Nancy did not respond.
"Nancy was awesome," Marsha said. "Her life was all about her kids."
The shootings, she said, have shocked the family to its core.
"My heart goes out to all the parents who have lost someone," Marsha said.
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