Two students are dead and three more remain hospitalized after a shooting at Chardon High School Monday. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports new details are still emerging about the alleged shooter.
The chaos started at 7:30 Monday morning as several Chardon High School students were waiting in the cafeteria to take the bus to area career schools for vocational training.
Eleventh grader Daniel Williams says when he heard the shots fired behind him, he turned around, got a glimpse of a student firing a gun, and quickly told the other students at his table.
Williams: “And then as soon as they turned around and saw it, they immediately jumped off the side of the table and then they just hit the floor, covered up their head and stuff. Then most of them climbed underneath the table. Then, as soon as we got a clear chance, we all ran into the teacher’s lounge and put a piano in front of the door.”
School officials responded by putting the high school on lock down and advising students to barricade themselves in a safe place, a procedure they’d practiced recently in emergency drills.
Chardon police Chief Tim McKenna said when the 911 calls started flooding in, all available police units responded quickly.
McKenna: “Information received upon my arrival was that the shooter had left the building. At that point, our team went right into the door to advise the EMS to get in and start assisting with the injured students.”
McKenna said the shooter was apprehended a short distance from the school and taken into custody.
McKenna: “Obviously, our subject we have made an arrest on, he is a juvenile. Until that’s adjudicated in the proper court, no name release on that.”
However, students have identified the shooter as T.J. Lane, a student who attended Lake Academy in Willoughby, an alternative school that serves at risk students.
Student Daniel Williams says Lane seemed isolated from his peers.
Williams: “He was a very shy boy. He did not like to talk very much.”
Willams says he sensed Lane had specific victims in mind because he targeted a group of students all sitting together.
Parents are still coming to terms with the day’s events.
Amy Serraglio Fierman has four children in Chardon schools, and one at the high school. She says she rushed to the school as soon as she learned about the shooting. Fiernan says she’s concerned her kids will be afraid to return to school.
Fierman: “You watch your kids walk out the door for anything—to go get a pop, or go to work or a friend’s house—and you worry. I think that the kids, the families, and even the administrators, I mean how long does it take to come down from a thing like this, and do you ever really?”
Community members are also shaken up. Pat Martin owns Antiques on the Square, less than mile away from Chardon High School. She said the shooting is a wake-up call that even a quaint, small town like this one is not immune from violence.
Martin: “We’ll all come together and mourn this whole situation. We’re going to have to be more diligent unfortunately and know that we aren’t exempt from all the tragedies in the world. And there’s big city things happening here, even in a small farming community like this is.”
Superintendent Joe Bergant says classes are cancelled at all Chardon schools today, and most staff are being given the day off too.
A candlelight vigil will be held at St. Mary’s church across from the district headquarters at 7 this evening.