48 hours ago the name T.J. Lane meant nothing to most of us. Now, nearly 16 hours after he walked in to the Chardon High School cafeteria in Chardon, Ohio and opened fire on four of his classmates, his name will be timestamped in our minds forever.
Since the 1999 shootings in Columbine, Colorado, one of the most gruesome school shootings in U.S. history, made headlines, people have been asking the questions: What drives a child to this level of violence? Were this signs that this violence was coming and did we miss it? Could this have been prevented? And though people will try to place blame somewhere, the answers to many of those questions may never be known.
Schools throughout the United States have implemented Violence and Suicide Prevention programs and trainings. National and state governments have mandated policies surrounding bullying and encouraged students to report incidences of bullying. I have sat in on many meetings with mental health professionals and school counselors regarding these ongoing issues, and I myself have lead school trainings in suicide and violence prevention in the past. Yet once again, the media is inundated with ongoing reports of this tragic incident that took the lives of teenagers Daniel Parmertor and Russell King Jr., and injured three others.
In the weeks that follow we will learn more about L and his possible motives. We have already begun to hear from Chardon students about the quiet student that had been attending the nearby Lake Academy Alternative School, and entered the cafeteria at 7:38 a.m., beelining for four specific students waiting for the bus to the other school and opened fire. We’ve heard from a friend who thought L was “one of the nicest kids” and “funny,” but who also stated that he was very closed and private about his family’s history with violence. And we have heard statements reported in the press from L’s attorney Bob Farinacci saying that he is remorseful and very confused.” And then there is that Dec. 30 Facebook post, which now people will surely say was a cry for help and a warning prior to the events that occurred almost two months later. The post spoke of a man who “was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain.” Ending with … “Die, all of you.” I get chills up my spine just writing that.
“This is something that could never have been predicted,” Farinacci said in a www.cnn.com report. But could it have been?
You may have noticed that I only mentioned the name of the shooter once in this post, I return to him as L. That is my attempt not to give this child his 30-seconds of fame on my page if that was his intention, though from the reports I have read I don’t think it was. This child, too, seem to be a very disturbed child who was just as much a victim of violence as Daniel Parmertor and Russell King Jr. though that will be difficult for some to see. Especially the family members who now have to find a way to go on without their loved ones.
I’m not much of a prayer, but my thoughts and prayers are with the Parmertor and King families, the staff and students of Chardon High School, and the Chardon, Ohio community. And I may even have a prayer in me for L, though I don’t know yet. He has to live with the consequences of his actions and that will be punishment enough, let alone what will come in the future.
So as I write this post, I ask my readers to keep those affected and dealing with this tragedy in your hearts. They have only just begun the long road to healing., And today refrain from any negativity that may be weighing you down, and instead reflect on what you do have — your families, your friends, your health, your lives! Because there are a few families in Ohio today, that cannot say the same.