Monday morning was just getting off the ground when Clair Coley saw something was wrong at the school next door.
The senior citizen’s house, a small neat building hung with St. Patrick’s Day decorations, sits at the corner of a quiet residential block and the driveway leading into Chardon High School. From a back window looking out on the large lawn buried in snow, Coley spotted 30 to 40 police officers with shotguns swarm the area before the clock had hit 8 a.m.
“It was a mess,” Coley told Scene later Monday afternoon. “Then I saw the students running away from the school instead of going toward it, and I knew something was wrong.”
We all know now what sent those students running, although a lot of details are still underwater. Just before 8 a.m., 17-year-old TJ Lane opened fire in the Chardon cafeteria. Described as a loner with a rough home life, the student reportedly went after a specific group of peers who always sat at the same table — possibly because one was dating Lane’s ex. After hitting five students, the shooter ran from the school, driven from the premises by Frank Hall, an assistant football coach. Lane subsequently turned himself in without incident a few blocks from campus. Two victims — 16-year-old Danny Parmertor and 17-year-old Russell King, Jr. — died. A third is in critical condition.
Although those facts — not to mention false ones — squeezed out of the panicked small town in the hours after the shooting, authorities played their cards close to the chest at a press conference late Monday afternoon.