Ohio student charged in high school shootings

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An Ohio teenager accused of killing three students and seriously injuring two others when he opened fire in a high school Monday has been formally charged with murder and other crimes.

Thomas "T.J." Lane III, 17, was charged at about 3:40 p.m. with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault in connection with the shootings at Chardon High School, Geauga County prosecutor David Joyce said at a news conference.

T.J. is currently being held in juvenile detention. Mr. Joyce said earlier in the week that under Ohio law the charges mean T.J. would be tried as an adult.

Three students -- Daniel Parmertor, 16, Russell King Jr., 17, and Demetrius Hewlin, 16 -- died after students said T.J. pulled a .22-caliber pistol out of a bag and began randomly firing in the cafeteria and then a hallway in the small town high school, located about 30 miles outside of Cleveland.

Two others -- Nick Walczak, 17, and Joy Rickers, 18 -- were also injured in the shooting and taken to local hospitals. Ms. Rickers was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon and Nick remained in serious condition.

A third student, Nate Mueller, told reporters Monday that he was grazed in the ear by a bullet while trying to flee from the cafeteria, prompting the assault charge.

T.J. is scheduled to appear in juvenile court for an initial hearing before Judge Timothy Grendell on Tuesday. The judge has tentatively scheduled a hearing on March 19 to discuss charging the boy as an adult.

Some students returned to the high school for the first time today, accompanied by parents so they could receive counseling. Classes resume tomorrow, the same day that visitation will be held for Daniel, the first boy who died from his gunshot wounds.

"I'm struggling myself to make sense of this violent act, and I cannot," Chardon superintendent Joe Bergant said today at a news conference, where other local officials also spoke.

He and other officials expressed their gratitude for the police response and for teachers who quickly came to the aid of students.

"As you know, many people did many things on Monday that helped the situation from being worse," said Geauga County sheriff's Lt. John Hiscox. "Frank (Hall) chased the gunman out of the building, saving even more bloodshed."

For the first time since the Monday morning shooting, assistant football coach and study hall teacher Mr. Hall, a tall, bulky man, spoke publicly to the community.

"To the families of Danny, Demetrius and Russell, I want you to know I was with them. I prayed with them. I wiped their tears and I know God was with them," he said, crying. "I don't know why this happened. I only wish I could have done more."

"I'm not a hero," he said, although local students have hailed him as such. "I'm just a football coach and a study hall teacher."

Chardon police Chief Tim McKenna said there "will be a law enforcement presence in the schools from this point on," possibly until the end of the school year. Tomorrow, that will include Sheriff Dan McClelland.

Teachers and school staff members receiving extra instruction this week about how to cope with the signs of trauma, said Kate Biddle, assistant vice president of clinical services at the Beech Brook mental health center, one of many facilities that helped counsel the community.

"There will be a numbness and inability to feel almost anything," she said, adding that people could expect to have flashbacks, eating problems, disrupted sleep and feelings of anxiety or hypervigilance. "What we advise to promote the healing is first and foremost to keep perspective about what a rarity this is."

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1438.


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