CHARDON, Ohio (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Ohio on Thursday formally charged 17-year-old T.J. Lane with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated attempted murder and one count of felonious assault in Monday’s shooting rampage that claimed three students’ lives.
Lane will have a hearing next week before a juvenile court judge in Geauga County to determine if he will be charged as an adult, as is permitted under Ohio law. As a juvenile, he is ineligible for the death penalty.
Prosecutors have said Lane, who attended a school for at-risk students, confessed to randomly firing on a group of students at Chardon High School in Chardon, though his motive is unclear. Two students were wounded, while a third was grazed in the ear by a bullet.
Frank Hall, an assistant football coach whom police credited with chasing Lane out of the school from the cafeteria where the shootings occurred, spoke about the shooting publicly for the first time on Thursday.
“I don’t know why this happened. I only wish I could have done more. I‘m not a hero. I‘m a football coach and a study hall teacher. Law enforcement, first responders ... they are the heroes,” Hall said, his voice choked with emotion.
“I‘m here to tell you tomorrow our schools will be open. Our teachers will be there, our administration will be there, our parents and community, but more importantly, our children will be there. I can’t tell you how great these children are,” Hall said.
Authorities said classes will resume at the school on Friday. “I want to assure the community there will be a long enforcement presence at the school from this point on,” Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna said.
Earlier on Thursday, a group of about 50 Chardon students gathered in the city’s downtown, where they held hands and sang the school song around a pavilion decorated with red ribbons, candles, flowers and stuffed animals.
The crowd soon swelled to about 1,000 and the group walked past flags that flew at half-mast to the school, where Chardon Schools Superintendent Joe Bergant hugged every student who entered and grief counselors were on hand to speak with them.
“This is a defining moment for us,” said an 18-year-old student named Brandon, who declined to give his last name. He said he was mostly worried about re-entering the school cafeteria.
Lane has told police that he took a .22 caliber Ruger pistol and a knife to the school on Monday and fired 10 shots randomly into a group of students sitting at a table in the cafeteria, according to prosecutors.
Daniel Parmertor, 16, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and Russell King, 17, were killed. Nick Walczak, 17, remains in serious condition in a hospital with neck and back injuries, and another student has been released from hospital.
Parmertor’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday and Hewlin’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.
Reporting By Kim Palmer,; Writing by Andrew Stern; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Paul Simao