CHARDON, Ohio - Law enforcement officers and members of the media gathered outside the Chardon Local Schools Board of Education building Tuesday afternoon for more devastating news on the deadly school shooting.
Just before 8 a.m. Monday, shots were fired inside Chardon High School, killing three students and injuring two others.
"With news this afternoon that a third victim has now died from this tragedy, may I ask that we have a moment of silence," Chardon superintendent Joe Bergant said, at the start of the news conference. At around 1 p.m. Tuesday, Demetrius Hewlin was pronounced dead at MetroHealth Medical Center. Daniel Parmertor, 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, were the first two to pass.
Bergant announced that a fund has been set up through the United Way of Geauga County called the Chardon Healing Fund. Already $150,000 has been donated to the fund and 100 percent of the money raised will go to helping the those directly affected by the tragedy, according to Bergant. Donations can be made at any PNC Bank branch or the United Way of Geauga County.
Counselors will be available until 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chardon Middle School and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Mary's Parish. Counselors will also be available to teachers and staff on Wednesday, with the faculty returning at their normal time on Thursday.
Bergant said the middle school and high school will be open to students and their parents on Thursday, to help reintroduce the students. He urged students and parents to attend.
"We need to get kids back into our schools safely. That they're comfortable, that their parents are comfortable putting them back into our care," Bergant said. "We have a great community that is working hard to get our kids back into our classrooms. Classes will resume on Friday.
"Hopefully, we can have some other time for family on Saturday and Sunday. Again, I would encourage you, I've said this before and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, spend some family time. You never know what the next day will bring," Bergant said.
Carrying with the general theme of the news conference, Geauga County Sheriff Daniel McClelland remarked that this is a time to heal. He spoke about seeing a group of students tying red ribbons, the color of the Chardon Hilltoppers, around trees in the city. He said it was time for the community to embrace the spirit of the students, who have rallied together to show support.
"We will heel. We will never forget. We will remember the victims," McClelland said. "Today I have plans to go home and hug someone."
Chardon Police Chief Timothy McKenna spoke briefly, once again stating that Hewlin had passed away. The only bright spot is news that the female victim, who had been taken to Hillcrest Hospital, was released from the hospital at around noon Tuesday, McKenna said.
Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce, who spoke earlier in the day at the suspect's first court hearing, said it is possible that he will be tried as an adult. Joyce said TJ Lane, 17, will likely face three counts of aggravated murder, as well as other charges.
"Unfortunately, at the end of the day someone, now three people have passed, and some others were injured, but this was the effect of one lone gunman," Joyce said. "As was stated in court earlier today, he chose his victims at random. This is not about bullying. This is not about drugs. This is someone who is not well… We'll make sure justice is done in this county."
Joyce said Lane admitted firing 10 shots in the school's cafeteria.
"We're going to try this case I guarantee it," Joyce said. While there was time for questions, Joyce's answers were brief as he reminded members of the media of a gag order.