Motive a Mystery
Victim declared brain dead in Ohio school shooting
Chardon: A 17-year-old boy wounded in Monday's shooting rampage at an Ohio high school was declared brain dead, authorities said on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to two.
Russell King Jr. was declared brain dead, although he still has a heartbeat, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office administrator Hugh Shannon said. Three students wounded in the shooting remain hospitalized.
King is the second victim to have died in the shooting at Chardon High School east of Cleveland, where a gunman opened fire in the cafeteria before classes started and was then chased from the scene by a teacher and arrested nearby.
Daniel Parmertor, 16, was declared dead on Monday.
Authorities said the suspect, a student, will appear at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in a hearing at Geauga County Juvenile Court.
The incident ranks as the worst gun violence at a US high school in 11 months and in Ohio since late 2007, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
King, Parmertor and a third victim, Demetrious Hewlin, had been rushed to MetroHealth Medical Center after the shooting. King had no brain activity at the time of his arrival at the hospital, Shannon said. Hewlin remained in critical condition.
A 17-year-old boy was in serious condition and an 18-year-old girl was stable at Hillcrest Hospital in suburban Cleveland, a spokeswoman said late Monday.
The suspected gunman has not been 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 praised the actions of teachers, who had been through disaster training and acted quickly to protect the students.
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 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.
The Lane family's lawyer described the suspected shooter as a "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. Lane 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, affluent town about 35 miles (56 km) from Cleveland with a population of about 5,000, according to the US Census and Chardon's website.
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.