Ohio school shooting: Screams, terror erupt after gunman opens fire
It was a typical morning at the start of the school day: Breakfast was being served at the Chardon High School cafeteria when the deadly pops began in the hallway of the small-town Ohio campus.
“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.”
At least one student died and four others were injured when a gunman opened fire in the school, according to officials who were still sorting through the evidence, seeking a motive.
The dead student was later identified as Daniel Parmertor by his family.
“We are shocked by this senseless tragedy,” his 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.”
A student was in custody in the case, but has not been identified because of his age, officials said. He has not yet been charged, they said.
Media interviews with witnesses and survivors painted a picture of students preparing for the start of their school week, then thrown into the chaos of flight by the ominous popping sounds that came first from the hallway, where officials said the shooter opened fire with a handgun.
The shots were then heard in the cafeteria, according to one witness, Heather Ziska, 17.
Ziska told reporters she was in the cafeteria when she and other students heard the popping noises in the hall. She said she saw a boy she recognized as a fellow student come into the cafeteria and start shooting. She said she and others sought safety outside while some friends ran into a nearby middle school and others locked themselves in a teachers lounge.
It was unclear whether the gunman had specific targets in mind when he began shooting. Freshman Danny Komertz told the AP that he believed the gunman was looking for certain students. He said he saw one student dive under a cafeteria table to unsuccessfully hide.
Komertz described the shooter as an outcast who had apparently been bullied by others. Officials would not discuss the motive.
Jonathan Sylak, a senior, told MSNBC that he sought shelter in the school library. He said a teacher pushed a chair up against the door as a barricade to prevent the gunman from entering.
Inside, he said, students reached for their smartphones but they were unable to get any texts out because of the volume of calls.
“Everybody began texting at the same time,” he said, adding that when the texts failed to get through, they turned to a library computer. “We were getting constant email updates from members of the school, so we knew when to get out.”
The school had staged evacuation drills before, Sylak said, and “we knew this wasn’t a drill.”
A teacher chased the gunman out of the building after the shootings, officials said. The suspect was apprehended outside and was being questioned by authorities.
Officials said the first emergency calls went out just around 7:38 a.m. local time and that responders found victims in three separate areas.
Chardon is a town of slightly more than 5,000 people, about 30 miles from Cleveland. The campus area includes the high school, the middle school and a nearby elementary school that became a staging area for parents to be reunited with their children.
“I’m a single dad and I’m pretty devastated,” one parent told a television reporter. “This is not something you would expect at this locale.”
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.