CHARDON, Ohio (Reuters) - Classes resumed on Friday at Chardon High School, four days after a 17-year-old opened fire in a cafeteria, killing three students in the deadliest shooting rampage at a U.S. high school in six years.
After an emotional display of community support on Thursday, when students and parents marched through the streets of the small town east of Cleveland to the quiet applause of their neighbors, all Chardon schools continued what Superintendent Joseph Bergant called a “journey of rebuilding.”
Buses rolled in to the high school about 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled opening Friday morning, greeted by faculty and staff who could be heard clapping. Some students walked to the campus where flags remain at half-staff and others parted from parents after a big hug.
Some students smiled lightly, others held more stoic or somber looks, as they walked toward the school.
Stopping for a moment near a memorial to the shooting victims, Peter LeMaster, 15, had a short message of forgiveness when asked what, if anything, he would say to the shooter.
“I would pray for him,” LeMaster said.
Students and their parents were free to meet Thursday with counselors at the Chardon schools, with classes resuming Friday.
Prosecutors on Thursday formally charged T.J. Lane, 17, as a juvenile with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated attempted murder and one count of felonious assault.
Prosecutors have said they plan to request that Lane be tried as an adult at his next scheduled hearing on Tuesday.
Under Ohio law, Lane faces a mandatory transfer to adult court for the killings if the prosecutor can show probable cause that he committed the crimes. He could face up to life in prison without parole, but not the death penalty.
Lane confessed when he was taken into custody shortly after the shooting on Monday morning to firing 10 shots from a .22-caliber handgun at a table of students he told police he had selected at random, prosecutors have said.
Daniel Parmertor, 16, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and Russell King, 17, died from their wounds. Nick Walczak, 17, remained hospitalized on Friday in serious condition from wounds and a female student has been released from a local hospital.
Visitation for Parmertor will be held Friday at a funeral home in Eastlake, Ohio, followed by his funeral Saturday. Hewlin’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday and King’s funeral has been scheduled for Thursday, March 8, at a Chardon church.
King’s obituary said his family donated his organs and “so far, his gift of life, through Lifebanc has saved 8 lives, including a small child. His heart still beats.”
On Thursday, one heartbeat was a common theme expressed on a number of red and black homemade T-shirts and sweatshirts worn by students and in messages outside the high school.
Reporting by Shannon Stapleton and Kim Palmer; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Paul Thomasch