NEWTOWN -- Adam Lanza aspired to be a Marine -- one of "the few, the proud."
Failing that, he planned to join another branch of military service.
At first, Nancy Lanza supported her youngest son's dream. She liked the idea that the military would give him purpose, a career path and structure to his life. But the more she thought about it, the more she saw a downside.
"It became overwhelmingly clear to her that it (military service) wasn't right for him," Adriani said. "She squashed" any notion of Adam joining the Marines or any branch of the armed services by reminding him "that he didn't like to be touched," said Adriani, and that if he were injured, "doctors and medics would have to handle him to treat him."
Lanza, 20, harbored a dream of joining the military after he stopped taking college-level courses at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, said a local merchant who knew the Lanzas. Adam Lanza first made his military aspirations known when he was 17, about the time his older brother, Ryan, was attending Quinnipiac University.
The Adam Lanza who went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last Friday was outfitted for war. Only his targets were civilian, not military. He was clad in body armor, black clothing and wielding a Bushmaster and Sig Sauer rifles, both equivalents of a military M-16. He was also armed with a 9mm Glock originally used by the Austrian military and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Lanza was a familiar face at area shooting ranges in recent years, federal agents said, but not in the past six months. Nevertheless, he had ample opportunity to hone his skills firing off as many virtual rounds as he wanted in the comfort of his own home.
It was pretty clear he was an avid gamer from the trove of gory video and Internet gaming material investigators seized.
Peter Wlasuk, a Newtown plumber who claims he worked at the Lanzas' home, informed The Sun of London that Lanza would play soldier in violent video games such as "Call of Duty" for hours in a windowless, bunker-like basement.
"They had one poster of every piece of military equipment the U.S. ever made," Wlasuk told the British newspaper.
All three weapons Lanza stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School with were lawfully owned and registered to his mother, who grew up on a New Hampshire farm where she learned early how to shoot and handle guns.
Adriani visited Lanza's girlhood home last October, when the two of them attended a retirement party for Lanza's brother, James Champion, a police officer.
"She was a real farm girl," Adriani said, and had a respect for firearms. "She was one of the most responsible people I know. She kept them locked up. She was safety-conscious in every aspect of her life. If you got into her BMW and didn't buckle up, as soon as the car started making that ding-ding-ding sound, she'd stop driving and wouldn't start until you were safely buckled in."
Adriani met Nancy Lanza several years ago at the My Place restaurant in Newtown, where a number of their mutual friends hang out. The two shared a passion for gardening and good food.
All of what Adriani knows of Adam Lanza, she concedes, she learned from his mother, whom police said he shot first before going to the school to kill 20 children and six women before turning the gun on himself.
"Nancy was proud of both of her sons," Adriani said. "They were the world to her. Adam had been doing some computer work for someone I know. He was incredibily bright. And Nancy was looking into some schools for him and the possibility of moving, too."
As he progressed through the school system he did well academically, but socially he was an outcast. When anyone passed him in the hallway between classes, fellow classmates say, he would press himself against the wall, shunning even inadvertant physical contact.
Whether Adam Lanza was depressed about giving up his military dream and resuming his education, Adriani said she has no idea.
In the past year or so, Nancy Lanza had started traveling more, leaving him home alone more often, Adriani said. And Adam Lanza had started taking on more responsibility at home, grocery shopping, venturing out alone, too.
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Staff writer Brian Lockhart contributed to this story.