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Fatal high school shooting rocks Chardon, Ohio

Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor

The tragedy that struck Chardon, Ohio, Monday morning was described as “surreal” and “shocking” by Buckeyes from the small town near Cleveland.

A shooting at Chardon High School left two students dead, two injured but in stable condition, and one in critical condition, at the time of print Monday night. The alleged gunman, 17-year-old Thomas Lane, began shooting in the cafeteria and was later chased out of the school by a teacher. He later turned himself in and is in custody of the Geauga County Safety Center, according to multiple reports.

In a town where neighbors are comfortable not locking their doors, CHS graduate Gordon Moser said he doesn’t want this event to characterize his hometown.

“The character of Chardon is not what everybody has seen today,” said Moser, a third-year in chemical engineering. “It’s what the response has been and how everyone has gathered together.”

Moser was involved in a senior mentoring program with some of the victims at CHS, though he said he did not personally know anyone involved in the shooting. A vigil was held Monday evening on the Oval, and a candlelight vigil was held at the high school Monday evening, according to the mother of a student. CHS will be closed Tuesday.

“That’s the character of Chardon that I want everybody to see, not what we saw today from T.J. Lane,” Moser said.

Rebecca Moser, 17, was at school Monday morning when the shooting happened but did not know anyone involved. Rebecca Moser said it was a normal day, and it took a few minutes after the school went under lockdown to realize it wasn’t a drill and something serious was going on.

“We had our phones, so we were getting texts (about what was going on),” Rebecca Moser said. “We heard people in the hallways … my friends from other schools were saying we were on the news.”

Also a CHS graduate, Jesse Hall, a third-year in architecture, said he knows one of the students in critical condition.

“(The victim) seemed like a pretty quiet kid,” Hall said. “I don’t know if it’s an issue of bullying or something … he seemed like a nice kid and everybody seemed to like him a lot, a big sweetheart kind of kid.”

Despite being away from his hometown during this hard time, Hall said he’s had a crazy day dealing with the situation from Columbus.

“It’s just not the kind of thing that happens (in Chardon),” Hall said. “It’s really surreal to think about all of this … It’s been hard to concentrate on anything today. You see Columbine and stuff on the news and you never think that could happen to your school.”

Gov. John Kasich offered his condolences and prayers to those affected in Chardon prior to an event on campus Monday. He also ordered flags in Geauga County and the Statehouse to be flown at half-staff Tuesday.

“I urge all Ohioans to join me in lifting up this family, the other wounded students and their families and the entire Chardon community at this difficult time,” Kasich said in a press release.

Hall said Lane posted on Twitter the day before the shooting saying he was bringing a gun to school. Hall also said that from his knowledge, Lane has had “a pretty tough life.”

“I read a piece of writing he posted on Facebook a couple months back that was kind of morbid,” Hall said.

Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus sent out a release Monday evening sharing its condolences for Chardon, and advocating for concealed carry laws on campus.

Hall said community is very important to Chardon and he wishes he could be there with those affected by the tragedy.

“(Chardon) is such a big community … it’s upper-middle class, it’s hard working,” Hall said. “That’s why it’s so shocking … I just want to go home and see my parents and family and the people who were there. They’re never going to be able to get those images out of their heads.”

Rebecca Moser attended the vigil Monday and said while it was comforting, the town remains somber.

“It was such a beautiful day outside and it was just overcast in Chardon today, all day,” Rebecca Moser said.

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