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Prosecutor: Ohio shooting suspect is ‘not well’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    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)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A distraught Ava Polaski, a sophomore, leaves school grounds with her mother Misty Polaski following a shooting in Chardon, Ohio on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. A teenager described as a bullied outcast at Chardon High School opened fire in the cafeteria Monday morning, killing one student and wounding four others before being caught a short distance away, authorities said. The suspect, whose name was not released, was arrested near his car a half-mile away, the FBI said. He was not immediately charged. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Thomas Ondrey) MANDATORY CREDIT
  • 2012. A gunman opened fire inside the high school's cafeteria at the start of the school day
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Nick Giorgi, left, Alek Bost and Joe Laudato, right, tie ribbons on trees in downtown in Chardon, Ohio in memory of victims of the school shooting Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. A gunman opened fire inside the high school's cafeteria at the start of the school day Monday. Two of the victims have died and wounding three remain hospitalized (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
  • AP
    Flags fly at half staff in front of the town hall in Chardon
  • Ohio for the victims of an early morning school shooting Monday
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    S.W.A.T. members leave Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. A gunman opened fire inside the high school's cafeteria at the start of the school day Monday, wounding five students, officials said. Special Agent Vicki Anderson said Monday the shooter was taken into custody near his car about half a mile away from the high school. A spokeswoman for the Cleveland Clinic confirmed five students were being treated at two different hospitals. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Bouquets of flowers sit on the sign in front of the high school in Chardon, Ohio Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. A gunman opened fire inside the school's cafeteria at the start of the school day Monday. Two of the victims have died and three remain hospitalized (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Flags fly at half staff in front of the town hall in Chardon, Ohio for the victims of an early morning school shooting Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. A gunman opened fire inside the high school's cafeteria at the start of the school day, killing one student and wounding four others. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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CHARDON, Ohio >> The prosecutor in the Ohio school shooting that killed three students says the suspect is "someone who’s not well."

Prosecutor David Joyce said at a news conference after 17-year-old T.J. Lane’s court hearing Tuesday that the suspect would probably face at least three counts of aggravated murder.

He says that Lane "chose his victims at random" and that "this is not about bullying. This is not about drugs."

At the hearing, the boy was ordered held for at least the next 15 days. Prosecutors have until March 1 to charge him.

The death toll rose to three Tuesday in the shooting rampage in an Ohio high school cafeteria as schoolmates and townspeople grappled with the tragedy and wondered what could have set the teenage gunman off.

Shaken residents offered condolences and prayers to the families of those killed and wounded at 1,100-student Chardon High School in suburban Cleveland. All three of the dead were students, as are the two people wounded.

"This gets more tragic, the whole area is suffering, our prayers go up to God to give all strength, healing and closure," said one of hundreds of Facebook postings on a memorial page.

The community offered grief counseling to students, staff and others at area schools.

"We’re not just any old place, Chardon," Chardon School Superintendent Joseph Bergant II said. "This is every place. As you’ve seen in the past, this can happen anywhere, proof of what we had yesterday."

A Cleveland hospital said Demetrius Hewlin, who had been in critical condition, died Tuesday morning. The news came shortly after Police Chief Tim McKenna said 17-year-old Russell King Jr. had died.

Another student, Daniel Parmertor, died hours after the shooting, which sent students screaming through the halls and led teachers to lock down their classrooms as they had practiced doing so many times during drills.

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.

The police chief would shed no light on a motive.

"I feel sorry not only for that family but all the families that are affected by this," McKenna said. Characterizing himself as a "hometown boy," he added: "Chardon will take care of Chardon."

A student who saw the attack up close said it appeared that the gunman targeted a group of students sitting together and that one of the dead was shot while trying to duck under the cafeteria table.

Lane’s family is mourning "this terrible loss for their community," attorney Robert Farnacci said in a statement.

Lane did not go to Chardon High, instead attending nearby Lake Academy, which is for students with academic or behavioral problems.

Fifteen-year-old Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting, said Lane was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied. But others disputed that.

"Even though he was quiet, he still had friends," said Tyler Lillash, 16. "He was not bullied."

Farinacci, representing Lane and his family, told WKYC-TV that Lane "pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about."

Student Nate Mueller said that he was at the table in the cafeteria where the victims were shot, and a bullet grazed his ear.

"My friends were crawling on the floor, and one of my friends was bent over the table, and he was shot," Mueller told The Plain Dealer. "It was almost like a firecracker went off. I turned around and saw (Lane) standing with a gun and I saw him take a shot."

Mueller told the Cleveland newspaper that Lane would wait at the school to take a bus to Lake Academy. Mueller said that King — one of those killed — had recently started dating Lane’s ex-girlfriend.

Lane "was silent the whole time," Mueller said. "That’s what made it so random."

Frank Hall, an assistant high school football coach who students say chased the suspected gunman out of the cafeteria, told a Cleveland TV station that he couldn’t discuss what happened, but added: "I just want to say that I’m sorry for the families."

Hall told WEWS on Tuesday that school staffers had been asked by the district to be sensitive about the investigation.

"I wish I could have done more," said Hall, whom students have hailed as a hero.

___

AP writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Julie Carr Smyth and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, and photographer Mark Duncan in Chardon contributed to this report.

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