Coach Praised After Ohio School Shooting Speaks

Published March 1, 2012 11:45PM (EST)

CHARDON, Ohio (AP) — An assistant football coach who chased a teenage gunman from a school cafeteria shrugged off talk of being a hero Thursday and assured parents that he was with their mortally wounded children and wiped their tears amid the attack that killed three students and wounded two.

"To the families of Danny, Demetrius, and Russell, I want you to know I was with them. I prayed with them. I wiped their tears and I know God was with them," an emotional Frank Hall said shortly after the 17-year-old suspect was charged in the rampage.

"I don't know why this happened. I only wish I could have done more. I'm not a hero. Just a football coach and a study hall teacher."

The emergency responders at the scene were the real heroes, said Hall, a tall, muscular, barrel-chested man with a boyish face who paused to compose himself at one point and read from notes while standing close to the school's football field.

Clearly still upset by Monday's shooting, Hall has been credited by students, faculty and police with chasing the gunman from the school building, saving even more bloodshed.

After speaking, Hall left the outdoor news conference with a colleague's arm wrapped around him.

T.J. Lane was charged Thursday with killing three students, the first step in proceedings that could see him charged as an adult and facing the possibility of life without parole if convicted.

The charges filed in Geauga County juvenile court accuse Lane of killing three students and wounding two others in the shooting Monday morning at Chardon High School, about 30 miles east of Cleveland.

He is charged with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault.

No motive has been determined. Prosecutor David Joyce has said that victims were selected at random and that Lane is someone "who's not well."

Children convicted of juvenile crimes in Ohio are typically behind bars only until they turn 21 in the most serious cases. But Joyce has already said he plans to charge Lane as an adult, meaning he could face life in prison without parole if convicted of similar adult charges.

Minors are not eligible for the death penalty in Ohio, whether they are convicted as juveniles or adults.

Lane's attorney, Robert Farinacci, could not be reached for immediate comment on the charges. A message was left at his office.

Lane, who attends an alternative school for students who haven't done well in traditional schools, 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, Joyce said.

Killed were Demetrius Hewlin, 16, Russell King Jr., 17, and Daniel Parmertor, 16. The motive for the shooting is unclear, though Joyce has appeared to rule out theories involving bullying or drug-dealing.

Hewlin attended Chardon High. King and Parmertor were students at a vocational school and were waiting in the Chardon High cafeteria for their daily bus when they were shot.

Parmertor had just gotten his first job at a bowling alley and couldn't stop talking about how excited he was to pick up his first paycheck later this week, his parents said.

Two other students were wounded. Nick Walczak remains in serious condition. An 18-year-old girl was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Lane was a normal boy who excelled in school and played outside often with his sister, building snow hills and skateboarding, according to Steve Sawczak, a family friend who's a pastor and has worked with troubled children.

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

Associated Press writers Kantele Franko and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus and Ted Shaffrey in Chardon and AP photographer Tony Dejak also contributed to this report

By Salon Staff

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