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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Teen suspect's court hearing offers little explanation for Ohio school shootings that killed 3

BY THOMAS J. SHEERAN
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mourners gather outside St. Mary's Church on Tuesday during a memorial service for three students killed Monday at Chardon High School, in Chardon, Ohio. Mourners gather outside St. Mary's Church on Tuesday during a memorial service for three students killed Monday at Chardon High School, in Chardon, Ohio.
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CHARDON, Ohio — The 17-year-old suspect in a deadly shooting rampage at an Ohio high school appeared briefly in juvenile court as residents of the shaken community offered sympathy and support for families and friends of the three students who were killed and two who were wounded.

A prosecutor described suspect T.J. Lane as "someone who's not well" and said the teen didn't know the victims but chose them randomly.

Lane admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the 1,100-student Chardon High School and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table Monday morning, prosecutor David Joyce said.

Authorities offered their own condolences Tuesday and shared a nugget of welcome news, announcing that an 18-year-old girl who was hurt in the shootings had been released from the hospital and was home with family. The second injured teen remained in serious condition at a suburban Cleveland hospital.

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Those trying to understand what prompted the shootings got few answers from the court hearing, which came hours after the death toll rose to three.

Lane, a thin young man described by other students as extremely quiet, spoke little in court, where a judge ordered him held for at least 15 days.

Lane's grandfather, who has custody of the teenager, and two aunts joined him in court. The women lightly embraced the older man as the hearing began.

Prosecutors have until Thursday to bring charges and are expected to ask that Lane be tried as an adult. He will probably be charged with three counts of aggravated murder and other offenses, Joyce said.

The prosecutor appeared to rule out rumors and speculation that the young gunman lashed out after being bullied or that the shooting had something to do with drug-dealing.

"This is not about bullying. This is not about drugs," Joyce said. "This is someone who's not well, and I'm sure in our court case we'll prove that to all of your desires and we'll make sure justice is done here in this county."

Joyce would not elaborate. Both sides in the case are under a gag order imposed by the judge at the prosecutor's request.

The judge also barred media outlets from taking photos of the faces of the suspect and some of his relatives. The Associated Press transmitted photos and video of Lane that were shot before the hearing. The AP and at least one other media outlet, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, plan to challenge the judge's order Wednesday.

Meanwhile, area schools offered grief counseling to students, staff and others shocked by the rampage.

"We're not just any old place, Chardon," Chardon School Superintendent Joseph Bergant II said. "This is every place. As you've seen in the past, this can happen anywhere, proof of what we had yesterday."

Authorities said Tuesday that Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, had died from their injuries. Daniel Parmertor, 16, died shortly after the shooting.

Hewlin attended Chardon High. King and Parmertor were students at the Auburn Career Center, a vocational school, and were waiting in the Chardon High cafeteria for their daily bus when they were shot.

Parmertor had just gotten his first job at a bowling alley and couldn't stop talking about how excited he was to pick up his first paycheck later this week, his parents said.

Instead, Bob and Dina Parmertor are considering burying the check with the body of their son.

"That's all he was talking about," Dina Parmetor said Wednesday on NBC's Today show. "'Mom, when I get home from school on Thursday, can you take me to pick it up?'"

Bob Parmertor said his son was a happy kid, always fun to be around, and fond of teasing him because he was taller.

The shooting killed two other students, while another student, Nick Walczak, remains in serious condition in Hillcrest Hospital in suburban Cleveland. Suspect T.J. Lane has admitted firing at a group of students. A judge ordered the teen held for at least 15 days.



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