Five students at Chardon High School in Ohio were sitting at a cafeteria table waiting for a bus to take them to alternative vocational schools on Monday morning. Suddenly, according to reports, a classmate pulled a gun on them and started firing from just a few feet away. Three of them have died.
Witnesses say the alleged 17-year-old shooter picked his victims deliberately, walking directly to them and pulling out a gun, all with an expressionless face. After shooting them, the boy fled the school, chased by a teacher before police arrested him nearby.
(VIDEO: Raw Video of Afrermath at Chardon)
As is the case so many times in tragedy, a town has been thrust into the national limelight as the students tell their personal stories of horror. Here are a few of the story’s key names.
Located in Geauga County, the town of 5,100 lies about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland, south of Lake Erie and Interstate 90. Known as the maple-syrup capital of Ohio, Chardon is also home to the 1,100-student Chardon High School. Students from Chardon were also eligible to attend vocational schools, including the Auburn Career Center and the Lake Academy Alternative School, an institution designed for “at-risk” students in grades seven through 12, in nearby Willoughby.
On Tuesday, the town of Chardon pledged to wear red, the high school’s main color, in an act of solidarity and remembrance.
The alleged shooter, a sophomore, has been described as quiet but normal. By most accounts from fellow students, Lane wasn’t bullied, and had friends who were left in “complete shock” after Monday’s events, friend Haley Kovacik told CNN.
“He seemed like a very normal, just teenage boy,” Kovacik said of Lane. “He did have a sad look in his eyes a lot of the time, but he talked normally, he never said anything strange.”
But even if Lane appeared normal at school, a Dec. 30, 2011, Facebook post has now garnered plenty of attention. The post includes a lengthy poem that gets darker as it gets longer.
In the poem a “quaint lonely town” includes a “man with a frown (who) longed for only one thing the world to bow at his feet. He was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain.” The post continues to discuss an “ominous breeze through the trees” whipping through castles, past the guards where those inside “feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you. Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.”
Even those who read the poem weren’t alarmed, offering encouragement at the skill of Lane’s writing.
Lane lived with his grandparents, as his own father and mother have a history of violence and domestic abuse. Lane was reluctant to speak of his family, his friends said. On Monday, he was in the cafeteria before his routine of boarding a bus, with Auburn Center students, to his stop at Lake Academy.
An aspiring computer repairman and snowboarder was the first casualty of the school shooting. He was waiting with his friends in the cafeteria for a ride to the Auburn Center for a computer course when the shooting occurred and died hours after the shooting. Described as “a very good young man, very quiet,” Daniel Parmertor, 16, lost his life on Monday.
His family released a statement on Monday: “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.”
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Russell King Jr.
The news from Chardon didn’t improve on Tuesday morning. Monday’s shooting claimed its second victim early on Tuesday, as Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead, and later pronounced dead. King studied technologies of alternative energies at Auburn Career Center in Concord Township, where the junior was also enrolled. Russell was a “very social kid, quick with a smile,” says Maggie Lynch, Auburn superintendent.
Tuesday continued with tough news for Chardon, Ohio, residents. Demetrious Hewlin was listed in critical condition on Tuesday, a victim of the shooting, but succumbed to his injuries during the day, becoming the third to die at the hands of a classmate. A junior who aspired to be on the football team, Hewlin was known to spend plenty of time in the weight room, working out.
Having been shot several times in non-critical areas, Nick Walczak was able to escape the cafeteria and find safety in a classroom. The 17-year-old junior was also headed to the Auburn Center to study alternative energy. Friends say he is very likable, with a great sense of humor.
A senior at Chardon High School, the 18-year-old is active in a local dog-owners group and has been described as a talented artist. Rickers was in stable condition on Monday, having been shot in a non-critical area.
Escaping serious injury, Nate Mueller had a bullet graze his ear. “There was no warning or anything,” he said about the shooting. “He just opened fire.”
The study hall teacher and assistant football coach chased the shooter out of the school, where police arrested the suspect a short time later. Had it not been for Hall, there may have been more bullets in Chardon on Monday morning.
Hall and his wife, Ashley, have adopted four boys and Hall helps run the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes club at the school.
“Coach Hall, he always talks about how much he cares about us students, his team and everyone,” student Neil Thomas told CNN. “And I think today he really went out and he proved how much he cared about us. He would take a bullet for us.”