Who is T.J. Lane? 5 Things to Know About Chardon High School Shooting Suspect

 
on February 28 2012 11:16 AM
Ohio High School Shooting: T.J. Lane's Father Arrested For Domestic Violence Multiple Times
Geauga County court records show that Lane's father, Thomas Lane Jr., has been arrested multiple times for increasingly violent crimes against women, and may have been abusive towards T.J. as well. Family lawyer Bob Farinacc, meanwhile, described the Chardon High School shooting suspect as "very, very scared and extremely remorseful," saying his client was as stunned by his actions as those who witnessed them were. Facebook/Tj Lane

T.J. Lane, a 17-year-old sophomore at Ohio's Lake Academy, has been confirmed as the suspect in custody of the Chardon High School shooting, an attack on Monday that left two students fatally wounded and three others seriously injured.

Little is known about Lane's motivations, including whether the shootings were random and what might have triggered the attacks.

Ohio and federal authorities have been tight-lipped about the course of the investigation, only releasing Lane's name Monday evening after having the alleged shooter in custody for most of the day.

Enough information has been gathered, however, to begin to paint the picture of the young man who opened fire in a high school cafeteria.

Here are five things to know about shooting suspect T.J. Lane and his actions on Monday morning, from his mysterious surrender to what students are saying about his home life, his friends and his possible motives for the attack.

1. Suspect described as 'one of the nicest kids there.'

Reports on shooting suspect T.J. Lane's personality have been shaky at best.

Some, like friend Torilyn LaCasse, describe the high school sophomore as a loner who was bullied regularly. Lane reportedly comes from a really broken-down home. Students say he lives with his grandparents, and may have had a violent home life.

T.J. Lane's Ohio high school, Lake Academy, describes itself as a place for at risk students who are reluctant learners. Pupils often struggle with problems such as substance abuse /chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies.

Nate Mueller, who witnessed the attack, added that he had been friends with Lane until the latter entered a gothic phase.

Other friends of the suspect, however, say they never saw any evidence that Lane had been picked on, and described him as a quiet but very normal teenage boy.

He did have a sad look in his eyes a lot of the time, said Haley Kovacik, another friend. But he talked normally, he never said anything strange.

What all those who knew Lane can agree upon is that his actions were completely unexpected. Evan Erasmus, one of the first to label Lane as one of the outcast type, said he couldn't believe the sweet, quiet kid from his school was responsible for the deaths of two students.

He was one of the nicest kids there, the Chardon High School senior said. It was really shocking that it was him.

2. Lane may have been targeting students.

Mueller, a junior at nearby Auburn Career Center High School, was waiting for the bus in the Chardon High School cafeteria at his usual table when T.J. Lane came up to him and his friends.

Suddenly, Mueller heard a loud noise, and his ear began to sting.

My friends were crawling on the floor, and one of my friends was bent over the table, and he was shot, Nate said. It was almost like a firecracker went off. I turned around and saw [Lane] standing with a gun and I saw him take a shot.

He was silent the whole time. There was no warning or anything. He just opened fire, Mueller added. That's what made it so random.

It's also what makes many suspect that Lane was targeting specific students.

Danny Komertz, a 15-year-old student who witnessed the attack, told  the Middletown Journal that Lane had no interest in the other 100 or so students crammed into the cafeteria for breakfast.

Instead, Lane focused all of his attention on the table where Mueller and the other Auburn Career Center students were sitting.

I looked up and this kid was pointing a gun about 10 feet away from me to a group of four kids sitting at a table, Komertz said. Then Lane opened fire.

I just can't believe it. I don't think it's real, Komertz told CNN. And I just, it kills me that I saw someone hiding, and now that someone is now dead.

Mueller has told news sources that Russell King Jr., the second student to die after injuries sustained during the Ohio school shooting, was dating an ex-girlfriend of Lane's at the time.

Mueller feels their relationship had nothing to do with Lane's actions. Komertz isn't so sure.

He was aiming right at them as he was two feet away, he asserted. He wasn't shooting around the cafeteria at all. He was directly aiming at the four of them.

3. Teachers helped save students when Lane began shooting.

Frank Hall, the assistant football coach at Chardon High School, witnessed the shooting. According to students at the scene, the teacher went after the gunman, chasing him out of the school. Police arrested Lane a short time later.

Neil Thomas, who was in Spanish class when the shootings began, said the actions of the coach and father of four were unsurprising given his character.

Coach Hall, he always talks about how much he cares about us students, his team and everyone, he told The Daily Mail on Monday. Today he really went out and he proved how much he cared about us, that he would take a bullet for us.

Other students said Joseph Ricci, a math teacher and father who has worked at the school for almost two decades, also took quick action to save student lives.

Ricci carried a wounded student from the cafeteria into classroom, and gave him first aid until medics arrived.

Student Eric Myeroff praised Frank Hall and Joseph Ricci as two of the greatest leaders in our school, teachers who undoubtedly saved lives and helped prompt the shooting suspect to flee.

After Frank Hall drove T.J. Lane from the school, however, the story gets somewhat murkier. Early police reports indicated that Lane may have turned himself in to bystanders, but that story has yet to be confirmed by local police.

All Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna did not mention that. Instead, he said officers came up with the suspect after starting a search shortly after the shooting.

4. There may have been warning signs on Facebook and Twitter.

Students may have been horrified to realize that T.J. Lane was the killer behind Monday's shooting, but there is some proof that the 17-year-old may have left several warning signs before he launched his February attack.

A Facebook profile which may belong to Lane featured a poetic rant on Dec. 30, 2011, that showed a young man angry, in pain and completely alone.

In a quaint lonely town, sits a man with a frown, the user wrote. He longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet.

Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you, the post continued. Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.

Although the Facebook page has yet to be confirmed as Lane's, the Tj Lane it belongs to has just under forty friends registered as Chardon residents, six of whom went to Chardon High School. Photos on the user's profile, meanwhile, are supposedly a match to the shooting suspect.

Erasmus, meanwhile, claims that Lane posted a threatening message on Twitter shortly before the shooting, warning of the imminent attack.

I think he said that he was going to bring a gun to school, Erasmus told CNN. Everyone just blew it off like he was joking.

5. Lane's family is reaching out to the families of the victims.

In the hours after T.J. Lane was identified as the shooting suspect, Lane's family issued a statement through lawyer Robert Farinacci, who is representing the 17-year-old in court.

The family is devastated, he told WKYC-TV in Cleveland on Monday night.

They want to give their most heartfelt and sincere condolences to the family of the young man who passed and their continuing prayers are with all those who were injured, he said. This is something that could never have been predicted.

Farinacci asked that the family be given some privacy as they tried to understand how such a tragedy could have occurred, and to give them time to reach out to the community.

When asked about T.J. Lane as a young man, Farinacci said his client was a smart kid with impressive grades, doubling up on his classes so he could try and graduate in May.

By all accounts, T.J. is a fairly quiet and good kid, his lawyer added. He pretty much sticks to himself, but does have some friends, and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about.

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