People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger’s and violent behavior, experts say.

The law enforcement officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

Richard Novia, the school district’s head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, of which Lanza was a member, said he clearly “had some disabilities.”

“If that boy would’ve burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically,” Novia said in a phone interview. “It was my job to pay close attention to that.”

Amid the confusion and sorrow, stories of heroism emerged, including an account of Hochsprung, 47, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 56, rushing toward Lanza in an attempt to stop him. Both died.

There was also 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, whose name has been invoked as a portrait of selflessness. Investigators told relatives she was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger. She reportedly hid some students in a bathroom or closet, ensuring they were safe, a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.

“She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” a friend, Andrea Crowell, told The Associated Press. “She wanted to do her best for them, to teach them something new every day.”

There was also 6-year-old Emilie Parker, whose grieving father, Robbie, talked to reporters not long after police released the names of the victims but expressed no animosity, offering sympathy for Lanza’s family.

See also:

Leaders eye school safety plans after Connecticut attack

How to talk to children about the Sandy Hook shooting

Could Sandy Hook shooting be a gun-control tipping point?

School safety resources from the eSN archives

“I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you,” he said.

Faced with the unimaginable, townspeople sadly took down some of their Christmas decorations and struggled with how to go on. Signs around town read, “Hug a teacher today,” ”Please pray for Newtown,” and “Love will get us through.”

“People in my neighborhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations,” said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.

School board chairwoman Debbie Leidlein spent Friday night meeting with parents who lost children and shivered as she recalled those conversations. “They were asking why. They can’t wrap their minds around it. Why? What’s going on?” she said. “And we just don’t have any answers for them.”

The tragedy brought forth soul-searching and grief around the globe. Families as far away as Puerto Rico planned funerals for victims who still had their baby teeth, world leaders extended condolences, and vigils were held around the U.S.

Sandy Hook Elementary will be closed this week—some parents can’t even conceive of sending their children back, Leidlein said—and officials are deciding what to do about the town’s other schools.

Asked whether the town would recover, Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library who took cover in a storage room with 18 fourth-graders during the shooting rampage, said: “We have to. We have a lot of children left.”