Escaped school shooter captured near Ohio prison
, Ohio (AP) — A teen convicted of killing three students at an Ohio high school scrambled over a prison fence with two other inmates only to be caught nearly six hours later while hiding by a church just 100 yards from the prison.
T.J. Lane, 19, was caught by two Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers at 1:20 a.m. Friday. One inmate was caught almost immediately after he escaped Thursday night while the third remained at large early Friday morning.
Nearly 200 miles to the east, Lane’s brief flight to freedom drove fear into the hearts of Chardon residents. The community outside of Cleveland is where Lane fatally shot three students and wounded two others.
Police officers were sent to guard the homes of the families of Lane’s victims while school officials huddled to decide whether or not to cancel classes Friday.
“The last several hours have been very difficult as we come to grips with this situation,” Chardon schools superintendent Michael Hanlon said at a news conference early Friday after Lane was caught. He also announced that classes for Friday in fact had been canceled.
The escape occurred at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, a minimum- and medium-security prison in Lima about 80 miles south of Toledo. Asked why a convicted killer was not at a more secure prison, warden Kevin Jones said at a news conference early Friday: “That will be something we’ll have to sit down and look at.”
Jones said he saw Lane after he was captured and that the teen did not say anything. An investigation is underway to determine how the men, who were outside for recreation, managed to climb over the prison’s perimeter fence. Jones said.
Authorities wouldn’t say whether Lane and the other two inmates planned their escapes together. A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections said Lane did not resist when troopers found him.
Capt. Gary Allen of the Highway Patrol said at the news conference that the manhunt for 45-year-old Clifford Opperud was continuing.
“We’re not done yet,” Allen said.
Lane pleaded guilty last year to aggravated murder charges in the February 2012 shooting spree at Chardon High. Lane, then 17, said he didn’t know why he shot the teens.
At sentencing, he unbuttoned a dress shirt to reveal a T-shirt scrawled with the word “killer.” He wore a similar shirt during the shootings. He cursed and made an obscene gesture as the judge gave him three consecutive life sentences.
Prosecutors say Lane took a .22-caliber pistol to school and fired 10 shots, killing Daniel Parmertor and Demetrius Hewlin, both 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, while wounding two others. One of the wounded students is now paralyzed.
Lane was waiting in the cafeteria for a bus to take him to an alternative school for students who don’t fare well in traditional settings.
Before Lane’s case went to adult court in 2012, a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent to stand trial despite his claims to a court psychologist that he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies.
At his sentencing, Lane was defiant, smiling and smirking throughout, including while four relatives of the victims spoke.
Reached Thursday at her home in Chardon, Dina Parmertor, mother of Daniel Parmertor, said she was disgusted that Lane had escape.
“I’m extremely scared and panic stricken,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
MARK GILLISPIE, JOHN SEEWER
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