Feature

A Great Distance From Moving On

How A Monster, Ecstatic With Attention, Continues To Do Damage

Sarah Oglesbee
February 27, 2013 marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. In memory of the event and support of her community, Chardon High alum Sarah Oglesbee wrote a piece for us here at AltOhio - reflecting upon everything Chardon has been through in the last year and its resolve to move forward, strong and united. On March 19, 2013, T.J. Lane received three life sentences for his actions – but not before ensuring he would be remembered. Mrs. Oglesbee offers her reactions, alongside continued support of her hometown.

When TJ Lane walked in to the courtroom last Tuesday in Chardon, Ohio, nobody expected what was about to happen. That morning, most were relieved that the day of his sentencing had finally arrived; the long year would finally be over. We were hoping to finally move forward, and hoping that the entire community could begin to heal. Of course, Lane had one last statement he had to make to ensure he would never be forgotten. After entering the courtroom, Lane unbuttoned his shirt revealing a simple white tee with the words “Killer” written in marker. This was one last slap in the face to a community that he had already hurt so much.

There are a few who might glorify Lane for his actions - a community of “fans,” if you will. I even stumbled across a Facebook fan page for him. Its founder calls Lane a legend for killing his oppressors. On the page, peoples retorts range from “Why? TJ, this page, and all the people that liked this page will soon be forgotten” to “Wtf is wrong with you? You obviously need help too!” The image of Lane revealing his “Killer” shirt at the sentencing is being pasted in front of pictures of the American flag, and some paint him as a tragic figure. His vile words “The hand that pulls the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory” are being posted with the image of him giving the finger to the families of his victims.

I know some might want to blame bullying and spread the blame to his victims. Before his actions on Tuesday, I might have agreed about bullying’s impact, and even felt pity for Lane for a mistake he cannot take back. However, when I see the “Killer” shirt and hear his parting words to the people he hurt most, there is no sympathy. To those who want to defend him or point out the many sides to his actions, I ask you, what if it was your brother or sister or friend who was shot that day? I imagine his defenders might feel differently if it was their world he had destroyed.

There is no answer for the question that always follows these unthinkable tragedies: Why? Even the judge’s best guess is that Lane wanted nothing more than to make the front page news - and he did. TJ Lane is everywhere. Despite the “fans” he might have, there are countless others who find Lane more of a monster than ever. Three life sentences do not seem quite long enough. After the disgusting display of hatred by Lane and the heartbreaking speeches of victims’ families, Lane cannot be locked away fast enough. Dina Parmertor, mother of victim Daniel Parmertor, called Lane “repulsive” and a “weak, pathetic, vile coward.” She continued, “I will never be the same because of him…My children look at me and do not see the same mom they used to know.” I cannot speak for the entire community, but I believe that most would agree with Parmertor’s final wish for Lane. “I hope you have a cold, rough, unkind prison life with monsters like yourself…If I had my choice you would die an extremely slow, torturous death.” These words may seem harsh to some, or not harsh enough to others. Unfortunately for Lane, he will not be the hot shot in prison he thought he was on Tuesday.

Lane’s actions on Tuesday were nothing short of disgusting and disturbing. It shocked me that he could utter such inappropriate words to families in our community. I say “our” community because Lane is from Chardon as well. In fact, his grandparents live two minutes down the street from me. This is not the kind of place where those words and that amount of disrespect are displayed. No, Chardon is not an angelic town; no town is perfect. It is just the kind of place where “things like that do not happen.” Lane does not at all represent how the people of Chardon treat each other. In this town, everyone knows everyone in a way, or at most is separated by maybe one or two people. I know somebody who knows the victims, even if I do not know them personally. Not one of us expected those words from Lane - for the past year, he has remained silent at all the trials, saying nothing more than “yes” or “no” in response to the judge.

Lane’s sister, Sadie, was in Chardon High the day her brother made his rampage. Not surprisingly, Lane’s family has been under attack since the shooting. Sadie made a plea for understanding for the victims’ families and her own as well. She commented, “Words have a powerful impact, positive and negative…Trying to come to terms with everything that has happened, what I keep coming back to is that hate will only generate more hate, but forgiveness and compassion will bring peace and understanding.” I agree with Sadie. Hate only brings about more hate. But nobody in Chardon will ever forgive Lane for the tragedy he brought upon those families and our community. And words are very powerful. That is why those words Lane said on Tuesday will never be forgotten and it is why he will never be forgiven.