(Orange, Texas)

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December 19, 2012

Shattered Newtown tries to make sense of tragedy


NEWTOWN, Conn. — And no indication has been made publicly about the motive of 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who, clad all in black, broke into Sandy Hook Elementary and opened fire on students and staff.

Authorities say the horrific events of Friday began when Lanza shot his mother, Nancy, at their home, and then took her car and some of her guns to the nearby school.

Investigators have found no letters or diaries that could explain the attack, even as more fragments of Lanza's life emerged.

As a teenager, Lanza was so painfully shy that he would not speak or look at anyone when he came in for a haircut about every six weeks, always accompanied by his mother, said stylists in the Newtown hair salon Lanza frequented.

Cutting Adam Lanza's hair "was a very long half an hour. It was a very uncomfortable situation," stylist Diane Harty said, adding that she never heard his voice.

Another stylist, Jessica Phillips, said Nancy Lanza would give her son directions about what to do and where to go. He would move only "when his mother told him to," said a third stylist, Bob Skuba.

Even as questions lingered about the gunman and his motive, appreciation for those who helped students escape him persisted — as well as devotion to preventing it from happening again.

Andrei Nikitchyuk's young son, a boy nicknamed Bear, was on his way to the principal's office with a classmate Friday morning. The children were classroom helpers tasked with the most mundane of school day chores: delivering a teacher's attendance sheets. Before they made it, the children heard a series of loud bangs that sounded like someone slamming a door. Bear later told his dad he "saw bullets flying past."

Nikitchyuk, who was in Washington on Tuesday to support the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's push for tougher gun regulations, said teacher Abby Clements pulled his son and the boy's classmate into a nearby classroom as the shooting started.

"He was saved by a wonderful teacher," Nikitchyuk said, his voice cracking slightly. "She pulled them into a classroom and barricaded that door."


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