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CHARDON, Ohio - Several students who attend Chardon High School describe the shooting suspect as caring, calm and polite, even in the moments just before shots were fired that left three dead and two others injured.
It was shortly before 8 a.m. when police say 17-year-old TJ Lane walked up to a table inside the cafeteria and fired several shots. Sixteen-year-old Daniel Parmertor, 17-year-old Russell King and Demetrius Hewlin died from their injuries.
"I smiled at him, and it was just like a nod to me," freshman Lexi Joy told our Scripps station in Cleveland. Joy said she smiled again at Lane during their short exchange in the hallway Monday morning. She called it "just a normal thing."
"He didn't seem any different. He seemed just how he would be on a normal day. He didn't show any expression on his face. He was just TJ," Joy said. Minutes later, shots were fired inside the school's cafeteria.
Students said Lane was unpopular at school and bullied for his "goth look," but they said he was nice.
"I sat in a seat in front of him. I rode the bus with him and his sister. And he would just talk and smile, and kind of laugh," freshman Alissa Hartman said. "He seemed really sweet, like nothing was wrong with him."
During a candlelight vigil on Chardon Square Monday night, Lane's friend, Jonathan Donato lit a candle for the victims and his troubled friend.
"He was just a person that like wanted to hide himself and keep all of his emotions in. And he was doing what he wanted to do: Hiding his emotions," Donato said. "They built up and they built up inside of him, and they came out in a way that nobody would expect."
"It's just amazing what some people have hiding inside of them," Donato said.
While Lane was not a student at Chardon High School, he took the bus to Lake Academy from there each day.
Attorney Robert N. Farinacci is representing Lane and released the following statement Monday night:
"The family is devastated by this recent event. They want to express their most heartfelt and sincere condolences to the family of the young man who passed and their continuing prayers are with all those who were injured.
"This is something that could never have been predicted.
"TJ's family has asked for some privacy while they try to understand how such a tragedy could have occurred and while they mourn this terrible loss for their community."
Court records indicate the suspect had a troubled family life. In 2002, his father, Thomas M. Lane Jr. was indicted for felonious assault, kidnapping and disrupting public service. Lane Jr. has also been charged with attempted murder.
Lane remains in police custody and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
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