NEWTOWN, Conn. She was "a big, big gun fan" who went target shooting with her children, according to friends. She enjoyed craft beers, jazz and landscaping. She was generous to strangers, but also high-strung, as if she were holding herself together.
Nancy Lanza was the first victim in a massacre carried out on Friday by her son Adam Lanza, 20, who shot her dead with a gun apparently drawn from her own collection, then drove her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 26 people, 20 of them small children, officials said.
Their family had been disrupted by divorce in 2008. Nancy Lanza split from her husband of 17 years, court records show, and he moved out. Adam stayed with his mother. His former high school classmates said they believed that he had Asperger's syndrome or another developmental disorder. Lanza had an older son Ryan, who did not live with them.
News reports on Friday suggested Nancy Lanza had worked at the elementary school, but at a news conference on Saturday, the school superintendent said there was no evidence that she had ever worked at the school in any capacity. Authorities said it was not clear why Adam Lanza went to the school.
Interviews offered contrasting views of Nancy Lanza. To some, she was a social community member, a regular at Labor Day picnics and ladies' nights out. To others, she was a woman dealing with a difficult son and maintaining a public face "with uncommon grace."
Many of those who knew her were at a loss to describe what she did for a living. (Her ex-husband is an executive at General Electric.)