Friends Say Ohio Shooter Knew Victims
(CHARDON, Ohio) — One of the teenagers killed by alleged school shooter T.J. Lane was dating Lane’s ex-girlfriend, students at the school told ABC News.
A group of friends close to Lane’s former girlfriend told ABC News that the girl had dated Lane, and that after they broke up, she began seeing one of the victims, Russell King Jr. Lane felt forgotten after the couple broke up, one of the students said.
“She saw something she liked in him [Lane] that others didn’t see,” one student told ABC News. After dating Lane, she and King started to date on and off, but the relationship became more serious in recent months, the friends said.
King, 17, was one of five high school students shot in a rampage at Chardon High School on Monday by accused shooter T.J. Lane. Three students– King, Demetrius Hewlin and Daniel Parmertor–died from their wounds.
Another wounded student, Joy Rickers, 18, has been released from the hospital and Nick Walczak, 17, remains hospitalized. The group of friends told ABC News that Lane also knew these students.
The version of events offered by the students suggest a motive behind the lethal shooting spree and contrasts with what the prosecutor has said.
Prosecutor David Joyce alleged at Lane’s first court appearance that Lane “did not know the students, but chose them randomly.” The prosecutor added, “This is not about bullying. This is not about drugs. This is someone who is not well.”
A group of Chardon High School students close to Lane’s ex-girlfriend said that King was the girl’s current boyfriend and that Lane went right for him when he opened fire in the school’s cafeteria.
The friends said they do not believe the shooting victims were chosen “randomly,” as investigators have said.
King often told his friends that he loved the girl and was crazy about her, the group told ABC News. He allegedly made derogatory jokes about Lane, calling him names and threatening to beat him up, they said.
Lane reportedly said he was going to learn how to fight so that he could take on King. He was a thin, small teenager, but had been building up over the past year by lifting weights. Facebook photos showed a shirtless and muscular Lane posing for the camera.
Nate Mueller, who was sitting at the table with the victims the day of the shooting, told ABC News that when the firing began he turned to see Lane standing at his table and saw him take his second shot.
“That shot I saw TJ take had hit Russell [King] and he was over the table in a pool of blood, and Demetrius [Hewlin] was on the floor in a puddle of blood next to him,” Mueller said. “Nick [Walczak] had not been hit yet as I jumped over him.”
Mueller said Walczak, who was later determined to have been shot several times, was on the floor trying to crawl away and that he felt a bullet graze his ear. He did not get seriously injured, but has a small red mark on his ear.
The friends of the girlfriend told ABC News that the students all knew each other, which contradicts what family members of the victims have said.
“Danny had no relationship with that kid,” victim Daniel Parmertor’s father Ron Parmertor said at a news conference on Thursday.
Lane has been charged with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault.
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