Ohio school shooting
February 27, 2012
CHARDON, Ohio - A teenager described as a bullied outcast at his suburban Cleveland high school opened fire in the cafeteria Monday morning, killing one student and wounding four others before being caught a short distance away, authorities said.
A student who witnessed the attack close-up said it appeared the gunman was targeting a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table and that the one who was killed was trying to duck under the table.
Panicked students screamed and ran through the halls after the gunfire broke out at the start of the school day at 1,100-student Chardon High, about 30 miles from Cleveland.
The suspect, whose name was not released, was arrested near his car a half-mile away, the FBI said. He was not immediately charged. The Geauga County Sheriff's Office said that the suspect turned himself in after being chased out of the school by a teacher, CBS News reports.
FBI officials would not comment on a motive. But 15-year-old Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting, said the gunman was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied.
"I looked up and this kid was pointing a gun about 10 feet away from me to a group of four kids sitting at a table," Komertz said. He said the gunman fired two shots quickly, and students scrambled for safety. One of them "was kind of like hiding, trying to get underneath the table, trying to hide, protecting his face."
Classes canceled in Ohio community hit by school shooting
By Kim Palmer
CHARDON, Ohio (Reuters) - Students in an Ohio community shaken by the worst U.S. high school shooting in nearly a year were told to stay home on Tuesday, and the teenage suspect's family said through an attorney they were struggling to comprehend what had happened.
The gunman opened fire in the cafeteria of a high school outside of Cleveland on Monday, killing one student and wounding four others before a teacher chased him from the scene and he was arrested, police said.
A 16-year-old student, Daniel Parmertor, was killed in the shooting at Chardon High School, the worst at a U.S. high school in 11 months and in Ohio since late 2007, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The suspected gunman was not formally identified by police. But students, parents of students and local media identified him as T.J. Lane, a student at a school for at-risk youth whose family said they were in shock over the events and asked for privacy. Lane was not immediately charged.
"The family wanted me to convey to the citizens of Geauga County and Northeastern Ohio that the family is devastated by this most recent event," the Lane family's lawyer Bob Farinacci told local WKYC news.
"This is something that could never have been predicted. T.J.'s family has asked for some privacy while they try to understand how such a tragedy could have occurred and while they mourn this terrible loss for their community."
The entire school district was closed on Monday and will be closed again on Tuesday as the community grapples with the violence and waits for word on the wounded students.
"We want them to stay home and spend some time reflecting on family," an emotional Joseph Bergant, superintendent of Chardon schools, told a news conference.
He urged parents to hug and kiss their children, and praised the actions of teachers, who had been through disaster training and acted quickly to protect the students.
Two of the four wounded students were rushed to Cleveland's MetroHealth hospital where they were said to be in critical condition, according to Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna. MetroHealth spokeswoman Shannon Mortland declined on Monday evening to provide an update on their condition.
A 17-year-old boy, meanwhile, was in serious condition and an 18-year-old girl was stable at Hillcrest Hospital in suburban Cleveland, a spokeswoman said.
MOTIVE A MYSTERY
The motive for the shooting, which took place while students were studying and eating breakfast, remains a mystery. Fellow students told local media the suspect was a quiet loner who may have been bullied.
Some witnesses told local media he appeared to deliberately target a table where a student who had started dating his former girlfriend was seated with friends, but Reuters could not immediately confirm that.
The Lane family's lawyer described the suspected shooter as a fairly quiet "good kid" who had never been in trouble.
"His grades are pretty impressive... He's a sophomore. He's been doubling up on his classes with the intent of graduating this May. He pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about," Farinacci said.
A Chardon High School student, Danielle Samples, 16, who was in the cafeteria at the time, told Reuters she heard a series of "pops" and someone yelled to run down the hallway into a classroom. While Samples was in the hall, she heard another round of pops.
She said the suspected shooter was a student at Lake Academy in Willoughby, which serves at-risk students, and that he had been at Chardon's cafeteria waiting for a bus. She said the student lived with his grandparents and sister.
Chardon freshman Sofia Larkins, 14, was sitting with Lane's sister when the shooting began. "She didn't know anything," said Larkins. "She was surprised as anyone."
The two girls fled to a teachers' lounge when the shooting erupted, and began hearing talk that T.J. was the shooter, Larkins said. His sister began crying. Larkins said school officials came to the lounge and took the sister away.
Chardon, the seat of Geauga county, is a semi-rural, fairly well-educated and affluent town about 35 miles from Cleveland with a population of about 5,000, according to the U.S. Census and Chardon's web site. The town, which describes itself as the center of the state's maple syrup industry, contains neatly restored brick buildings downtown.
The mother of a student in Chardon, who asked not to be identified, said her son knew the accused gunman.
"My son's reaction was 'this doesn't surprise me.' T.J. (Lane) was a nice sweet kid who was misunderstood and he probably cracked from being different," she said.
The deadliest school shooting in the United States was a 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University that left 33 people dead. The worst high school shooting was a 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado that killed 12 students and a teacher.
Family lawyer identifies Ohio teen suspected in school shooting that killed one
February 28, 2012
A teenager described as an "outcast" is suspected of opening fire on his classmates Monday at an Ohio high school, killing one student and leaving another brain dead, while wounding three others.
Witnesses say the gunman targeted a group of students in the school's cafeteria before reportedly being chased from the building by a teacher and apprehended by authorities about a half a mile away from Chardon High School.
A lawyer for the suspect's family has identified him to a Cleveland television station as T.J. Lane and said Lane's family is mourning "this terrible loss for their community."
Lawyer Robert Farinacci says Lane's family is trying to understand how the tragedy happened.
In a statement issued to WKYC-TV in Cleveland Monday night, Farinacci said the family of Lane offered "their most heartfelt and sincere condolences" to the family of student Daniel Parmertor, who died in the shooting. Farinacci said the family is praying for the other injured students from Chardon High School.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner said Tuesday that 17-year-old victim Russell King Jr., who was airlifted to MetroHealth Medical Center, was pronounced brain dead.
Police have not released the alleged shooter's name because he has not been charged yet.
Farinacci said Lane "pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about."
Fifteen-year-old Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting, said Lane was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied. But others disputed that. "Even though he was quiet, he still had friends," said Tyler Lillash, 16. "He was not bullied."
An education official said late Monday the suspected shooter is a student at nearby Lake Academy, not Chardon High.
Brian Bontempo declined to answer any more questions about the student. Bontempo is the superintendent of the Lake County Educational Service Center, which operates the academy.
The alternative school in Willoughby serves 7th through 12th grades. Students may have been referred to the school because of academic or behavioral problems.
Law enforcement officials described the suspect as a "victim of bullying" and an "outcast." FBI officials would not comment on a motive.
Parmertor's family released a statement Monday through MetroHealth System spokeswoman Shannon Mortland that said: "We are shocked by this senseless tragedy. Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."
Joe Bergant, superintendent of schools in Chardon, a town of about 5,100 people, said school was canceled Tuesday and grief counselors would be available to students and families.
"If you haven't hugged or kissed your kid in the last couple of days, take that time," he said.
Nate Mueller, a high school junior who was hit in the right ear, told the newspaper that he and his friends were sitting in the cafeteria when the shooter approached them at around 7:30 a.m.
Mueller said he turned around after hearing a gunshot behind him and was struck on his ear, the newspaper reported.
"My friends were crawling on the floor, and one of my friends was bent over the table, and he was shot," he told the newspaper. "It was almost like a firecracker went off. I turned around and saw him standing with a gun and I saw him take a shot."
Another witness, freshman Danny Komertz, said he was just about to leave for his first-period health class when he heard a loud popping sound and then saw the gunman open fire. The 15-year-old Komertz says that there were at least 100 students in the cafeteria at the time and that most fled immediately as shots were fired.
He said one student who authorities say was killed was trying to get under a table to protect himself and shield his face.
Teacher Joe Ricci had just begun class when he heard shots and slammed the door to his classroom, yelling, "Lock down!" to students, according to Karli Sensibello, a student whose sister was in Ricci's classroom.
A few minutes later, Ricci heard a student moaning outside, opened the door and pulled in student Nick Walczak who had been shot several times, Sensibello said in an email. Ricci comforted Walczak and let him use his cellphone to call his girlfriend and parents, Sensibello said. She said her sister was too upset to talk.
Student Heather Ziska, who was just feet away when the gunman opened fire, said a normal morning was interrupted by strange sounds in a hallway, then the sight of the gunman beginning to shoot.
The 17-year-old junior said she and other students began hearing popping noises in a nearby hallway. Ziska said she then saw a boy with a gun who she recognized as a fellow student come into the cafeteria and start shooting.
She said she and several others immediately ran outside, while other friends ran into a middle school and others locked themselves in a teachers' lounge.
The wounded students were reportedly airlifted to local hospitals.
The 1,100-student high school is about 30 miles east of Cleveland.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/27/ohio-high-school-on-lockdown-after-reports-shooting/print#ixzz1ngKHf1uN
The Ohio school shooting and missed warning signs on Twitter
By Janice D'Arcy
Today’s monstrous story of several students shot and at least one killed at an Ohio high school this morning has precedence — both in its brutality and its warning signs.
The shooter, reportedly an outsider who had complained of being bullied, had apparently tweeted that morning that he would bring a gun to school. No one, apparently, took the tweet seriously.
As our kids continue to break down the boundaries between their real and virtual lives, parents and mental health specialists are debating whether and how to patrol social media postings for signs of kids in trouble.
Earlier this month, a New York Times story explored new research that showed, according to one study on a college campus, that about 30 percent of Facebook postings could be classified as indications of clinical depression.
The story said:
“ … specialists in adolescent medicine and mental health experts say that dark postings should not be hastily dismissed because they can serve as signs of depression and an early warning system for timely intervention. Whether therapists should engage with patients over Facebook, however, remains a matter of debate.
And parents have their own conundrum: how to distinguish a teenager’s typically melodramatic mutterings - like the “worst day of my life” rants about their “frenemies,” academics or even cafeteria food - from a true emerging crisis.”
It cited other tragedies foretold in public postings. One 15-year-old from Staten Island posted in December that she would try to end her life in a Facebook posting and a few weeks later stepped in front of a bus.
It also recounted a near miss. One mother checked her daughter’s Facebook update in time to read that her daughter had just swallowed “pills.” Relatives were able to reach the girl and rush her to the hospital.
The vast majority of the overly dramatic postings on Facebook and Twitter may be just that, but once in a while a real cry for help — or a real threat — lies in plain sight.
The question for experts and parents is how to tell the difference. And, how to tell the difference before tragedy occurs.
How much do you monitor your children’s public postings? How seriously do you take them?