The Geauga County Sheriff’s Department believes that it has determined how Chardon, Ohio, school shooter T.J. Lane managed to sneak his now-infamous “killer” shirt into the courtroom on Tuesday.
Lt. John Hiscox, Jr., of the Geauga County Sheriff's Office believes that Lane woke up in the middle of the night before his sentencing hearing and scrolled the word “killer” on his prison-issue shirt right under the noses of his guards, ABC News reports.
"What the sheriff thinks happened is, in the middle of the night, prior to him going up to court, he had taken one of his T-shirts and wrote the word on it, put the T-shirt on under his jail uniform," Hiscox said.
Hiscox added that the prison’s inmates are each supplied with three T-shirts, underwear and socks. They are also allowed the use of rubber pens for writing letters and filling out necessary forms.
Inmates normally wear their street clothes for courtroom hearings, meaning that Lane’s outfit was checked by prison staff and placed in a changing room before his outburst. In order for the shooter to get his grisly message past security, he would have had to conceal it.
"Then they're patted down as they're being put in the back of the cruiser, but no one would have seen the writing on the shirt, because it's already now concealed under his shirt for court," the lieutenant told ABC News. "Everybody in the whole courtroom was completely taken aback by that. No one in a million years would have guessed that that would happen."
Meanwhile, Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge David Fuhry addressed the event by stating that Lane’s positioning in the courtroom prevented him from recognizing the criminal’s plan.
"Had the court noticed the shirt, the court would have immediately stopped the proceedings, adjourned the court, and the court would have ordered the defendant to put on proper attire," the judge said in a statement, according to ABC News affiliate WEWS.
The 18-year-old shooter, who had just been sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the cold-blooded murder of three of his classmates, unbuttoned his prison jumpsuit to reveal the word “killer,” which he had written on his shirt. Lane then made a crude, remorseless statement about his victims, flashed their families the middle finger and used profanity. The shocking display drew gasps from the courtroom and heaped even more pain upon the victims’ families.
"Frankly, I wasn't prepared for this," the case’s prosecutor told ABC News. He also added that he believed Lane to be a "disgusting human being."
Like the rest of those who witnessed Lane’s dastardly outburst, Hiscox was utterly shocked. "It was probably one of the ugliest things I've ever witnessed," he said.
Lane was waiting for the school bus when he opened fire on three Chardon High School classmates on Feb. 27, 2012. Daniel Parmertor, 16, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, were all slain in the attack. Lane reportedly laughed when he heard the judge’s ruling that he was to serve three life sentences without the possibility of parole.
When asked about potential punishment for Lane’s brazen display, Hiscox said, "It's pretty hard to punish somebody when you just gave somebody three life sentences."