Neighbor: Alleged Ohio shooter was a normal kid

T.J. Lane, a suspect in Monday's shooting of five students at Chardon High School is taken into juvenile court by Geauga County deputies in Chardon, Ohio Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. Three of the five students wounded in the attacks have since died.
AP Photo/Mark Duncan

(CBS/AP) CHARDON, Ohio - The teenage suspect in a deadly shooting rampage at an Ohio high school was a normal boy who excelled in school and played outside often with his sister, building snow hills and skateboarding, a family friend said Wednesday.

Steve Sawczak said he never would have allowed his own grandchildren to play nearby if he thought anything was wrong with suspect TJ Lane.

"We're all absolutely stunned," Sawczak told The Associated Press. "He's an average kind of kid."

Sawczak, 58, a pastor who works with troubled children, said he never saw similar signs in the boy. A next-door resident of Lane's grandparents for almost 25 years, he said the grandparents, who have custody of the teen, gave Lane a healthy place to live. They were actively involved in the life of Lane and his sister and often took them to school events.

"They are in shock," Sawczak said. "They are absolutely devastated."

The suspect has told investigators he stole the gun he used from his uncle, who had legal ownership of the firearm, reported CBS News correspondent Bob Orr. Sources tell CBS News there were, in fact, lots of guns around - about two dozen legally-owned weapons were discovered in FBI searches of Lane's relatives' homes.

At Chardon High School, the faculty parking lot was jammed Wednesday as teachers returned to the school for the first time since Monday's shooting, with grief counselors on hand inside if needed. Parents and students are encouraged to return to the school Thursday, and classes resume Friday.

Lane, 17, appeared briefly in juvenile court Tuesday as residents of the shaken community offered sympathy and support for families and friends of the three students who were killed and two who were wounded.

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Hundreds of residents turned out for a vigil later that evening at St. Mary Catholic Church to pray and hear scripture readings, while overhead banners from a rival high school contained signatures from other students showing their support.

A prosecutor described suspect Lane as "someone who's not well" and said the teen didn't know the victims but chose them randomly.

Lane admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the 1,100-student Chardon High School and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table Monday morning, prosecutor David Joyce said.

An 18-year-old girl who was hurt in the shootings was released from the hospital Tuesday and was home with family. The girl's family declined to comment Wednesday. The second injured teen remained in serious condition at a suburban Cleveland hospital.

As mentioned on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday, Frank Hall, the assistant football coach, is being credited with saving lives when he chased the suspect out of the school. "Chardon's always been great. It's gonna be great. I just want to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers," he said.

On Tuesday, Lake Academy, the school that Lane attended, issued a statement that read: "This is devastating for all of us at Lake Academy. We are fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation and trust that the authorities will be able to sort out the facts surrounding the incident."

Those trying to understand what prompted the shootings got few answers from Tuesday's court hearing, which came hours after the death toll rose to three.

Lane, a thin young man described by other students as extremely quiet, spoke little in court, where a judge ordered him held for at least 15 days.

Lane's grandfather, who has custody of the teenager, and two aunts joined him in court. The women lightly embraced the older man as the hearing began.

Prosecutors have until Thursday to bring charges and are expected to ask that Lane be tried as an adult. He will probably be charged with three counts of aggravated murder and other offenses, Joyce said.

The prosecutor appeared to rule out rumors and speculation that the young gunman lashed out after being bullied or that the shooting had something to do with drug-dealing.