- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CHARDON, Ohio — The teenager arrested in an Ohio school shooting that killed three students didn’t know his victims and chose them randomly, a prosecutor said Tuesday as the young man appeared in juvenile court.

T.J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol to Chardon High School along with a knife and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table Monday morning, prosecutor David Joyce said.

The hearing came hours after the death toll rose to three, and as schoolmates and townspeople grappled with the tragedy and wondered what could have set the gunman off — a mystery the court appearance did nothing to solve.

“He did not know the students but chose them randomly,” Mr. Joyce said.

Mr. Lane’s face twitched lightly while the prosecutor recounted the attack, and the slim young man sniffled and half-closed his eyes as he walked out of the room with sheriff’s deputies.

Mr. Lane’s grandfather, who has custody of the teenager, and two aunts joined him in court; the women reached over and lightly embraced the grandfather as the hearing began.

Judge Timothy Grendell ordered the boy, who is considered a juvenile, held for at least 15 days. Prosecutors have until March 1 to charge him.

The judge imposed a gag order on opposing attorneys at the prosecutor’s request and told the media not to photograph the boy’s face in court.

Meanwhile, shaken residents offered condolences and prayers to the families of those killed and wounded at the 1,100-student high school. All three of the dead were students, as are the two wounded victims.

“This gets more tragic, the whole area is suffering, our prayers go up to God to give all strength, healing and closure,” said one of hundreds of Facebook postings on a memorial page.

The community offered grief counseling to students, staff and others at area schools.

“We’re not just any old place, Chardon,” Chardon School Superintendent Joseph Bergant II said. “This is every place. As you’ve seen in the past, this can happen anywhere, proof of what we had yesterday.”

A Cleveland hospital said Demetrius Hewlin, who had been in critical condition, died Tuesday morning. The news came shortly after Police Chief Tim McKenna said 17-year-old Russell King Jr. had died.

Another student, Daniel Parmertor, died hours after the shooting, which sent students screaming through the halls and led teachers to lock down their classrooms as they had practiced doing so many times during drills.

Both Mr. King and Mr. Parmertor were students at the Auburn Career Center, a vocational school, and were waiting in the Chardon High cafeteria for a bus for their daily 15-minute ride when they were shot.

The police chief would shed no light on a motive.

“I feel sorry not only for that family but all the families that are affected by this,” Chief McKenna said. Characterizing himself as a “hometown boy,” he added: “Chardon will take care of Chardon.”