CHARDON, Ohio – The Ohio teenager accused of killing three students in a shooting rampage in a high school cafeteria chose his victims at random and is “someone who’s not well,” a prosecutor said Tuesday as the young man appeared in juvenile court.
T.J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to Chardon High and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table Monday morning, Prosecutor David Joyce said. He said Lane didn’t know the victims.
Lane will probably be charged with three counts of aggravated murder and other offenses, the prosecutor said.
A thin figure with short dark hair, Lane seemed small next to the sheriff’s deputies who led him into court, and said little more than “Yes, sir” in response to questions from the judge.
His face twitched lightly while the prosecutor recounted the attack, and he sniffled and half-closed his eyes as he left the courtroom under guard.
The hearing came hours after the death toll rose to three, and as schoolmates and townspeople grappled with the tragedy and wondered what could have set off Lane, a young man described by other students as extremely quiet, with few if any friends.
The court appearance did little to solve the mystery. Afterward, though, the prosecutor appeared to rule out rumors and speculation that the gunman lashed out after being bullied or that the shooting had something to do with drug-dealing.
“He chose his victims at random. 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.
Lane’s grandfather, who has custody of the teenager, and two aunts joined him in court.
Judge Timothy Grendell ordered the boy held for at least 15 days. Prosecutors have until Thursday to bring charges against him and are expected to ask that he be tried as an adult.
Meanwhile, one of two injured students was released from the hospital and shaken residents extended condolences to the families of those killed and wounded.
Authorities said Tuesday that Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, had died. Daniel Parmertor, 16, died Monday.