By Eden Pecha
On February 27, Thomas “TJ” Lane walked into Chardon High School’s cafeteria, pulled out a .22 caliber pistol, and fired 10 shots at a crowd of students eating breakfast. Three students died, while two others suffered serious injuries. 16-year-old Daniel Parmertor died that day, while 16-year-old Demetrius Hewlin and 17-year-old Russell King Jr. were pronounced dead the following morning. Of the two students who were injured, one remains in serious condition while the other was released from the hospital earlier in the week. The city of Chardon, about 30 miles outside of Cleveland, had closed down the high school until this Friday, March 2nd.
Prosecutor David Joyce says he plans to charge Lane as an adult, as to avoid the Ohio law that states that any minor that is charged will be freed upon turning 21. Minors also cannot receive the death penalty in Ohio. Lane, 17, was charged Thursday with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault. Felonious assault cases are assaults where either a deadly weapon was used or which resulted in serious injuries and are typically charged as a second degree felony. These cases carry a presumption of a prison sentence of anywhere from 2-8 years. In order for the State to meet its burden it must show that a person intentionally acted in a way to injure another either by using a deadly weapon or that resulted in serious injuries.
According to statistics compiled by the United States Secret Service, at least one other person has some prior knowledge of an attacker’s plan in 81 percent of the incidents. In 59 percent of the incidents, more than one other person has some prior knowledge. Of those incidents where another person knew about the attack in advance, 93 percent of those people were the attacker’s friend, schoolmate or sibling. According to law enforcement officials, Lane had warned his friends about his plans two days in advance. On December 30, 2011, Lane wrote a monologue on his Facebook page, talking metaphorically about a bourgeoisie queen’s disgusting treatment of peasants and describes himself as Death. He says, “Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you. Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.” A friend of Lane’s told CNN that Lane came from a rough background and was currently living with his grandparents because his parents were deemed unfit. Although law enforcement officials are still unclear as to the reasons behind the shooting, Joyce appeared to have ruled out theories involving bullying or drug-dealing.
The Columbine High School shootings in 1999 remain the deadliest high school shooting in this nation’s history with 13 deaths, trailing only behind the gruesome Virginia Tech massacre in 2006 which resulted in 32 deaths. Because of these and other shootings (there have been 73 school shootings in the United States since Columbine) there has been a political movement to place more heavy restrictions on firearms. The National Rifle Association and other similar organizations oppose these attempts, citing cases of armed students ending shootings and halting further loss of life, and claiming that the prohibitions against carrying a gun in schools do not deter the gunmen. One example of this was the Mercaz HaRav massacre, where a lone Palestinian gunman entered a religious school in Jerusalem, Israel and shot eight students. The attacker was not stopped by police but rather a student, Yitzhak Dadon, who stopped the attacker by shooting him with his personal firearm which he lawfully carried concealed. In 2008, the Harrold Independent School District in Texas became the first school district in the United States to adopt the idea of an “armed classroom,” where teachers with state-issued firearm-carry permits were allowed to carry their arms in the classroom. Additional special training and ricochet-resistant ammunition were required for participating teachers. While the armed school approach is new in the United States, it has been used successfully for years in Thailand and Israel.
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