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A third student has died in Chardon, Ohio, that's after another student opened fire yesterday at the local high school. As Bill Rice of member station WCPN reports, the rural town is reeling from the violence.
BILL RICE, BYLINE: Kristen Shenker is a 2007 graduate of Chardon High School. She and her friend Amanda Nelson are raising funds to benefit the families of the victims in Monday's shootings. She says the residents of her small town are shocked.
KRISTEN SHENKER: I don't think it's really hit. I mean, I just noticed in the community walking through just Walmart, you know, everyone is just like at an awe, like no one knows what to say. No one knows what to do.
RICE: Amanda Nelson says Russell King, the second victim to die of his gunshot wounds, was a family friend.
AMANDA NELSON: He was a true gentleman. He was always nice to me. And I just - you know, its not fair. Not at all.
RICE: At a press conference held earlier today, Geauga County Sheriff David McClelland said he also is personally affected by what happened.
SHERIFF DAVID MCCLELLAND: I happen to be a graduate of Chardon High School. I met my wife here. The most eerie feeling in the world was walking down the halls yesterday – running down them in response to the incident we had.
RICE: Nate Mueller, a student at Chardon High, told a local television station he was at the table with several of the students who were shot and was himself grazed in the ear by a bullet.
NATE MUELLER: He didn't say anything the entire time. He took one shot, and then that's when we looked to see what was happening, because it sounded like a firecracker almost. And at that point, I looked back, I saw him shoot that which hit one of my other friends that was sitting at the table with us. And then, as I was turning around, that's when he hit me.
RICE: Authorities have identified 17-year-old T.J. Lane as the alleged gunman. He was apparently there waiting for a bus to an alternative school for at-risk youth where he was enrolled. Witnesses say he appeared to be shooting at a specific group of students, but he's denied targeting any one in particular.
Several students described Lane as a quiet person who kept to himself. Mueller, who was acquainted with him, says he never suspected Lane was capable of that kind of violence.
MUELLER: I was actually friends with him up until eighth grade, and he kind of silenced himself from his friends. But, I mean, he still had friends. He was still a nice kid. Like, we really - I don't think anybody really ever expected it to be him, you know?
RICE: All three critically wounded victims have died, another remains hospitalized and a fifth has gone home. Right this afternoon, T.J. Lane made his first appearance in court. Prosecutor David Joyce says the county expects to charge him with three counts of aggravated murder, and that if the judge finds probable cause the 17-year-old will be tried as an adult. For NPR News, I'm Bill Rice in Cleveland.
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