WASHINGTON — The Ohio teenager accused of America’s latest tragic school shooting was charged on Thursday with three counts of aggravated murder and two of attempted aggravated murder, a prosecutor said.
The charges against TJ Lane, who gave himself up and confessed to police after Monday’s shooting spree at Chardon High School, were filed in a juvenile court but prosecutors want to see the case transferred to the adult arena.
Minors are not eligible for the death penalty in Ohio but the teen could face life without parole if convicted in an adult court.
“Lane was charged with three counts of aggravated murder for killing three of our children, two counts of attempting aggravated murder for injuring two of the children and one count of felonious assault,” Geauga County prosecutor David Joyce told reporters.
Lane allegedly fired 10 shots from a .22-caliber handgun on Monday on a group of teenagers in the high school cafeteria, hitting some targets in the head at almost point-blank range while other students ran for their lives.
He then fled the scene, chased by a teacher, before giving himself up to bystanders a short distance away and being apprehended by police.
One victim died hours after the shooting. Two more succumbed to their wounds on Tuesday. A fourth victim remains in a serious condition in hospital, while a fifth, the only girl shot, has been released back to her family.
Shocked residents have struggled to comprehend how tragedy struck in their close-knit Ohio community of 5,100.
A picture has emerged of Lane as a troubled boy who lived with his grandfather after his father, who had a history of domestic violence and served time in prison, was warned by police to stay away.
“On Monday February 27, a senseless act of tragic violence shattered the hearts of three families and forever changed this community,” Chardon schools superintendent Joe Bergant told Thursday’s press conference.
No motive has been determined but the prosecutor told reporters earlier in the week that during his confession to police Lane had said that he picked his victims at random.
“This was the effect of one lone gunman. He chose his victims at random. This is not about bullying. This is not about drugs,” Joyce said Tuesday. “This is about someone who’s not well.”
The next court hearing has been scheduled for March 6.
Judge Timothy Grendell has tentatively scheduled a March 19 court date for an expected motion from prosecutors to transfer proceedings to an adult court.