High school shooter T. J. Lane 'was silent the whole time'

Feb 28, 2012
Charles Laurence

Teacher hailed as a hero for preventing ‘loner’ from shooting more students at Ohio school

EDITOR’S UPDATE, FEBRUARY 29: Since this article was posted, two more students have died in hospital from their wounds, bringing the death toll at Chardon High School to three. The victims are Daniel Parmentor, 16, Russell King Jr, 17, and Demetrius Hewlin, 16. It is also reported that the suspect, T.J. Lane, is likely to be charged and tried as an adult, according to Ohio’s attorney-general.

THE LATEST school shooting in America has left a teenage boy dead, four more teens wounded, two of them critically, and the 17-year-old shooter himself in custody facing murder charges.

The teen accused of the shooting spree at Chardon High School in a leafy outer suburb of the Rust Belt city of Cleveland, Ohio yesterday was named by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as T.J. Lane.

His fellow pupils described him as fitting the classic profile of the teenager who turns to violence: a loner, an outsider who had been bullied, and who had access to guns.

The Daily Beast last night posted a Facebook screed he had written which ended with the words: “Die, all of you.”

The dead teen was named as Daniel Parmentor, 16. His parents issued a statement mourning the “senseless death” of a “bright boy with a bright future”. Three boys and one girl made up the other victims.

It was not clear late last night what kind of handgun had been used – the shots were described by pupils as sounding like “firecrackers” – or how Lane had acquired it. The police announced that a team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, the specialist agency from Washington, had been called in to track the weapon.

The shooting came at 7.30 am as children bussed in to the 1,100-pupil school gathered in the cafeteria before classes.

Nate Mueller, 17, whose right ear was grazed by a bullet, described to the Plain Dealer how Lane had approached a table where a group who had been his friends before Lane “went his separate way” always assembled. One had been dating an ex-girlfriend of Lane’s.

Mueller heard a gunshot behind him, turned and felt a sting on his ear. "My friends were crawling on the floor, and one of my friends was bent over the table, and he was shot," Mueller said. "It was almost like a firecracker went off. I turned around and saw [T.J.] standing with a gun and I saw him take a shot."

Lane, he said, “was silent the whole time”.

A teacher, said last night to have been a football coach, was being hailed as a hero for charging at Lane, prompting him to flee the building. Lane is said to have run into the suburban streets around the school but to have surrendered to two passers-by, who held him until police arrested him. He does not appear to have attempted to shoot at the teacher, or the adults who stopped him.

The shooting is the worst in Ohio since late 2007, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The deadliest school shooting in the United States was the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University that left 33 people dead.

Security has become increasingly tight in America, with high schools often seeming more like low-security prisons. Most are equipped with airport-style metal detectors, employ “hall monitors” patrolling the corridors, and have a local policemen carrying a gun on the grounds throughout the school day.

Some killings have involved playground drug dealers. But most, particularly the mass-shootings, have been explained as being about two things: power and revenge. The gun grants power to those that feel powerless, while pulling the trigger on someone confers revenge.

The Chardon shooting occurred on the eve of today’s Michigan primary where all the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination support the Second Amendment, giving Americans the right to possess a firearm, and are opposed to gun controls. Newt Gingrich, for instance, calls it a God-given right.

Only Mitt Romney has waivered in the past, supporting gun control laws in the early stages of his political career, but he has since seen the light and is against “creating new laws that burden lawful gun owners”.

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