By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times –
What began as a routine start of the school day, breakfast in the cafeteria and students shuffling to class, turned into a scene of chaos and tragedy Monday when a teenage gunman opened fire, killing one student and wounding four others at a suburban Ohio high school before he was arrested a half mile away.
The shooting began about 7:30 a.m. EST at Chardon High School, about 30 miles outside Cleveland. Students told reporters that the gunman appeared to targeting specific classmates when he walked into the cafeteria and began firing a handgun. Victims were found in at least three locations, police said. Authorities did not identify the shooter because he is a juvenile and were investigating the motive.
Loud pops rang through the cafeteria and hallways and sent students scurrying for safety. Teachers responded heroically. One reportedly grabbed a wounded student and pulled him to safety while others barricaded their rooms. Another finally forced the gunman to leave the building, officials said.
“Everybody just started running,” Megan Hennessy, 17, told The Associated Press. Hennessy said she was in class when she heard the noises. “Everyone was running and screaming down the hallway.”
The building had no metal detector, but Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland said police and school officials had many drills. It turned out to be “practice, if you would, for (an) event just like today.”
Police responded after the first shots, Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna told reporters at a televised news conference. Students reached for their cellphones and texted nervous parents who gathered outside to pick up their children.
Five students were taken to two local hospitals. Two students were listed in critical condition, one was in serious condition and one was stable at the other hospital. McKenna identified the dead student as Daniel Parmertor.
“We are shocked by this senseless tragedy,” Parmertor’s family said in a prepared statement distributed to reporters. “Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”