CHARDON, Ohio - The teenager accused of killing three students in a shooting spree in an Ohio high school cafeteria chose his victims at random and is "someone who's not well," a prosecutor said Tuesday as the slightly built young man appeared in juvenile court.
TJ Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to Chardon High and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table Monday morning, Prosecutor David Joyce said. Joyce said Lane will probably be charged with three counts of aggravated murder and other offenses.
The hearing came hours after the death toll rose to three, and as schoolmates and townspeople grappled with the tragedy and wondered what could have set the gunman off a mystery the court appearance did nothing to solve.
Afterward, though, the prosecutor appeared to rule out rumors and speculation that the gunman lashed out after being bullied or that the shooting had something to do with drug-dealing.
"He chose his victims at random. This is not about bullying. This is not about drugs," Joyce said. "This is someone who's not well, and I'm sure in our court case we'll prove that to all of your desires and we'll make sure justice is done here in this county."
Joyce would not elaborate. Both sides in the case are under a gag order imposed by the judge at the prosecutor's request.
At the hearing, the boy was ordered held for at least the next 15 days. Prosecutors have until March 1 to charge him.
The hearing followed the announcement of the death of Demetrius Hewlin, a student from Chardon High School, and who was previously listed in critical condition, Tuesday morning. He became the third fatal victim of the shooting.
Another student, Russell King Jr., was declared brain dead, authorities said Tuesday. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office received the word about King Jr. just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, office administrator Hugh Shannon said in a statement. It was unclear whether King remained on life support; the statement referred to him as both deceased and brain dead.
King, 17, was one of five students injured when a suspect identified by a family lawyer as Lane began shooting at Chardon High School Monday morning. King was studying alternative energy at nearby Auburn Career Center and like the others who were shot was waiting for a bus for his daily 15-minute ride to the center. Student Daniel Parmertor died hours after the shooting.
Both King and Parmertor were students at the Auburn Career Center, a vocational school, and were waiting in the Chardon High cafeteria for a bus for their daily 15-minute ride when they were shot.
CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reported that "Lane has told investigators he stole the gun he used from his uncle, who had legally obtained it. Sources say in fact there were lots of legal guns around. About two dozen weapons were discovered in FBI searches of Lane's relatives' homes."