The father of one of the victims of the 2012 Chardon, Ohio, school shooting was found dead Thursday morning in his home on the second anniversary of the crime.
There were no signs of foul play in the death of Russell King Sr., whose 17-year-old son, Russell King Jr., was shot and killed along with two other students -- Demetrius Hewlin and Daniel Permentor, both 16 -- at Chardon High School by T.J. Lane on Feb. 27, 2012, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. The Geauga County coroner will be investigating the elder King's death, according to Lt. John Hiscox of the Geauga County Sheriff’s Department.
"It's horrible, just horrible,'' Hiscox told the paper. "I feel for the family, and I feel for the community.''
Chardon Local Schools and the City of Chardon both released statements about King’s death.
“Words cannot express how deeply saddened we are to learn of the loss of Russell King Sr.,” said Schools Superintendent Michael P. Hanlon Jr., according to Associated Press. “The thoughts and prayers of the Chardon Schools are with the King family during this extremely difficult time.”
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“The City of Chardon is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Russell King, Sr.,” read the city’s statement. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire community are with the family at this difficult time. Our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy. The community and school continue with the healing process and continue supporting one another. The three lives lost on 2/27/12 live on in our hearts and minds.”
Lane, 19, pleaded guilty to the Chardon school shooting and is serving three life sentences for the crime. He drew outrage when he wore a white T-shirt with “KILLER” written in marker during his sentencing in March. He also gave the middle finger to the victims’ parents and families.
Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz wouldn’t comment on King Sr.’s death. But he said the case “"was an ongoing criminal investigation, although we believe foul play was not involved,” according to the Plain Dealer.
Flaiz said the 2012 shooting left the elder King distraught. The prosecutor worked with victims’ families during Lane’s case.
"What happened took an enormous toll on all the families,'' he told the Plain Dealer. "It hit Mr. King as hard or harder than the others. He was extremely close to his son. Seeing the emotional pain on him concerned me.''