By Teresa Ambord
December 14 probably started like any other workday in the life of a young accountant. Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Lanza was at his desk in the Manhattan office of Ernst & Young, possibly creating spreadsheets, examining financial statements, or balancing accounts. Then came the horrifying news that a man had burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire on children and adults, killing twenty-six. The killer's identity was known, the news reports said. It was Ryan Lanza.
Lanza watched as, out of the blue, his picture was plastered all over the media, naming him as a mass murderer. The news also said that someone in Lanza's own apartment had been found dead, and there was speculation that the body was that of his girlfriend, who could not be located.
As the news unfolded, getting worse and worse by the moment, one of his coworkers told reporters that Ryan Lanza was in shock. Confusion eventually turned to the realization of what must have happened. The shooter could have been his younger brother Adam, age twenty, who may have been carrying Ryan's ID.
Still at the office, Ryan told coworkers that if the shooter was his brother, that must mean he'd also killed their mother, which explained the body found in the apartment. Finally the news came that Ryan's brother Adam had turned the gun on himself.
"I need to go," Lanza told his boss at Ernst & Young. He left his office and got on a bus to head home. He later told authorities he planned to go from his apartment to his family's home in Connecticut. While on the bus, he was flooded with messages from friends asking him what was going on, offering to help. He defended himself via Facebook, saying, "IT WASN'T ME I WAS AT WORK IT WASN'T ME." Still in a cloud of confusion and grief, he told everyone on Facebook to just shut up.
It would take awhile for police to realize there had been a mistake in naming Ryan Lanza as the killer. Thirty minutes after he left work, police stormed the Ernst & Young office looking for him. They found him later at his apartment Hoboken, New Jersey, and took him and his roommate in for questioning. One report said that an official had mistakenly transposed the names of the brothers. Neither Ryan Lanza nor his roommate was charged, but by Friday night, Lanza was still in custody, possibly for his own protection.
Ryan Lanza is a graduate of Quinnipiac University.