In Massachusetts, neighbours of suspected leaker recall a recluse who remained under the radar

He was the strange kid who travelled on the school bus wearing headphones to separate him from company.

He was the kid without many – if any – friends, and chose a social life online.

He was the pleasant young neighbour, seldom seen, but always polite.

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Moment suspect was arrested

These are things said about Jack Teixeira in his hometown of North Dighton in Massachusetts. Interactions with him might have differed, but they share distance.

He’s the recluse who remained under the radar, in more ways than one.

If no one knows him, no one knows anything of his motivation or mitigation. Such detail might evoke some sympathy – just maybe – but its absence feeds the clamour to condemn.

To the wider public, a shocking crime has been committed and what matters most is the crime itself and its consequences.

More on Jack Teixeira

The suspected criminal isn’t without support in the community, however. Mario Correia, 64, lives next door to the Teixeira family.

He told Sky News: “On one level, I really feel for the young man as I feel like he doesn’t really understand what he did.

“I certainly feel for his parents because I know them on a personal level and they are really nice people, hard-working people.

“My prayers are for them, that they be protected from all of this.

“I feel sad for the whole situation, I feel sad for young Jack. I really don’t know what his thoughts were but I feel for him. The few instances that I’ve run into him he’s always polite to me.

“We don’t know the extent of the leak, I don’t think anyone knows that – I pray there’s minimal damage from that but we also know that there’s some level of accountability.

“But I also pray for some mercy for him.”

No Trespassing signs have been posted on the private road that leads to the Teixeira’s home since the arrest. It’s the same road travelled by armed FBI agents who took him into custody.

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It is one of the few visible signs of the huge story that has come to this small town. Not that anyone needs a reminder.

At the nearby Lopes Complex, parents and children were preparing the softball field for the coming season. Nobody had missed the global news gone local.

Chris Andrade said: “It’s pretty shocking. We have a lot of military connections in this community, so it’s more surprising that somebody out of here would have the gall to do it.

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“Growing up in this community, it’s tough to fit in and I think, someone like him, it sounded like fitting in was important and so he found a community online and had some important stuff that he could maybe share and thought ‘Oh, I can trust these people’.

“I’m hopeful that it’s just him being an idiot and not thinking (through) the full repercussions. I fell terrible for his family., it’s a shame.”

In this story, the word shame is doing some heavy lifting – in this rural Massachusetts town and far beyond.