The online user who investigators believe was Adam Lanza chose weaponry for a shooting game that mirrored the firearms he used in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In his player profile for Combat Arms, a high-tech realistic shooting game, the user police suspect was Lanza designated the M-16 as his primary weapon for play. The rifle he used to blast his way into the school — the Bushmaster AR-15 — is a commercial version of the M-16.
The game player’s secondary weapon for Combat Arms was a Glock 23 pistol, similar to the weapon he used to fatally shoot himself after the Dec. 14 rampage. Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at home and 20 first-graders and six women at the school.
The Courant this week revealed for the first time Internet posts that investigators suspect were made by Lanza and that show his technical prowess about weapons and computers and a near-fixation with correcting Wikipedia articles about mass killers.
Although Lanza did not use his name, investigators linked the poster’s user name to Lanza, according to sources familiar with the shooting investigation. 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 Courant, which is not revealing the user name, reviewed several dozen posts on the gun websites, gaming chat rooms and Wikipedia written from April 2009 to February 2010.
The poster suspected to be Lanza began participating in Combat Arms in 2009 and went on to amass more than 83,000 “kills” in nearly 5,000 matches. The Combat Arms rankings also track “headshots,” “shots fired,” and “headshot accuracy.”
During a search of the Lanza home, police found guns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, samurai swords, a bayonet and knives, according to search warrants. Police also found thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment and video gaming consoles.
The day after The Courant revealed that investigators had identified what they believe to be Lanza’s online user name during the years 2009 and 2010 when he was 17, gun websites, social media commentators and crime bloggers weighed in on Lanza’s suspected identity, pointing to posts under the same user name.
An Internet database that monitors gaming cheaters determined Lanza as “clean,” meaning he followed the rules of Combat Arms. Some of the gamers the user identified as Lanza conversed with online took pride in cheating and hacking into the games.
In a departure from graphic military video games, the poster believed to be Lanza also appears on a vegetarian message board, veggieboards.com.
According to his pediatric medical records, Lanza was vegan by age 13, a lifestyle that drew concerns from his mother who discussed during visits to a pediatrician whether her son was getting proper nutrition.
On the vegetarian website, the user believed to be Lanza “liked” 20 posts but did not write any of his own.
A spokesperson for Nexon, the company that produces Combat Arms, did not return an email seeking comment.
Lanza shot his mother four times in the head. 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. 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 home, police found a New York Times article about the mass murder at Northern Illinois University in 2008, when a gunman killed five people and injured 21 in a lecture hall before killing himself.
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.
Story by Alaine Griffin and Josh Kovner, Hartford Courant