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Chardon HS students march to reopened school; more details emerge on TJ Lane's past

Seventeen-year-old TJ Lane is led from Juvenile Court by sheriff's deputies in Chardon, Ohio, Feb. 28, 2012, after his arraignment in the shooting deaths of three students. AP Photo

Seventeen-year-old TJ Lane is led from Juvenile Court by sheriff's deputies in Chardon, Ohio, Feb. 28, 2012, after his arraignment in the shooting of five high-school students.
Seventeen-year-old TJ Lane is led from Juvenile Court by sheriff's deputies in Chardon, Ohio, after his arraignment on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012.
AP Photo
(CBS/AP) CHARDON, Ohio - Three days after 17-year-old TJ Lane allegedly opened fire in the cafeteria, Chardon High School students marched, some hand in hand, to the school this morning.

Pictures: 3 killed, 2 injured in Ohio high school shootingPictures: Ohio high school shooting victims

Prosecutors have until today to file charges against Lane, who is accused of killing three and wounding two in Monday's shooting.

A prosecutor has said Lane, who is in custody, will probably be charged with three counts of aggravated murder and other offenses. Prosecutors are also expected to ask that he be tried as an adult.

According to court documents released Wednesday, Lane was accused of choking and punching another male in an assault case from 2009. Lane, who was 15 at the time, entered the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty plea to a reduced misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was given a suspended sentence of up to 30 days in jail.

Despite this history of violence, neighbors and friends said that Lane had seemed to be on a positive path after he began staying with his grandparents and attending an alternative school.

"He went from flunking out from what I understand to almost a straight A student with honors and he was going to graduate a year early," said Russ Miller, who has known Lane for more than a decade and lives near Jack Nolan, Lane's grandfather, who has familial custody of the teenager. 

"He was a typical 17-year-old," Miller said. "He didn't really know what he wanted to do in his life." He said Lane didn't smoke, drink or do drugs and is "kind of a health nut."

Steve Sawczak, a pastor who has worked with troubled children and lives next to the Nolans, said the boy's grandparents gave Lane a healthy place to live and have been left shocked and devastated.

According to state prison records, Lane's father, Thomas Lane, had served time in prison on charges of disrupting public service and felonious assault. The New York Times reports that Thomas Lane and TJ's mother Sara Nolan each had domestic assault charges filed against each other during their relationship.

Although he lived with his grandparents, neighbors said Thomas Lane visited his son often, sometimes taking him and his sister camping or to the school to catch the bus.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama offered condolences to Chardon High School principal Andy Fetchik, telling him in a phone call he was heartbroken by the news and asking how the principal and school community were holding up, reported the The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the .22-caliber gun used in the shooting was bought legally in August 2010 from a gun shop in Mentor, Ohio. The official said Lane told authorities he stole a gun from his uncle.

But a former county sheriff who has long lived near Lane's other grandparents indicated that the shooting appears to have involved a gun that disappeared from a family barn.

Prosecutor David Joyce has described the younger Lane as "someone who's not well" and said the teen didn't know the victims but chose them randomly. Demetrius Hewlin, 16, Russell King Jr., 17, and Daniel Parmertor, 16, were all killed in the attack.

Complete coverage of the Chardon school shooting on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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