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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Manhunt
Convicted killer in Ohio school shootings escapes from prison with two others
TJ Lane was 18 when he pleaded guilty last year to aggravated murder in the shooting spree at Chardon High School.

AN INTENSIVE MANHUNT was underway in western Ohio early on Friday for the teen convicted of killing three students at a suburban Cleveland high school after his escape from prison.

Nineteen-year-old T.J. Lane escaped at around 7:40 pm with two other inmates from Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, about 80 miles south of Toledo. One inmate was captured, said Lima police Sergeant Andy Green.

Law enforcement personnel were searching woods and a residential area near the prison, Green said. He added that Lane and the other escapee are considered dangerous.

Officials in the Chardon School District, where Lane killed the students in February 2012, announced that all schools will be closed Friday.

At an interstate truck stop about 10 miles north of the prison Thursday night, officers from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections showed motorists and truckers photos of Lane and the other escapee. Wanted posters were taped to windows.

Aircraft, including a helicopter with advanced infrared detection equipment, searched the area around the prison. Homes near the prison were brightly lit — indoors and out.

Authorities said they don’t believe Lane and 45-year-old Clifford Opperud are armed. Officials have not said how the men escaped from Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution. Opperud is serving a sentence for aggravated robbery, burglary, and kidnapping.

School Shooter Escape AP Clifford E. Opperud was serving a sentence for aggravated robbery, burglary, and kidnapping. AP

Ian Friedman, one of Lane’s former defense attorneys, tweeted Thursday, “I’ve been asked whether he is a danger. Answer is no one ever wants to return to prison for a life sentence. Plus, case facts speak.”

Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born said in a statement that Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, Allen County sheriff’s deputies and officers from other law enforcement agencies were involved in the search.

Lane was 18 when he pleaded guilty last year to aggravated murder in the shooting spree at Chardon High School, a rural community 30 miles east of Cleveland. Lane said he didn’t know why he shot the teens.

At sentencing, Lane unbuttoned a dress shirt to reveal a T-shirt scrawled with the word “killer.” He wore a similar shirt during the shootings. He cursed and made an obscene gesture as the judge gave him three life sentences.

TJ Lane AP T.J. Lane unbuttons his shirt during sentencing in Chardon, Ohio. AP

Prosecutors say Lane took a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to school where he fired 10 shots, killing Daniel Parmertor and Demetrius Hewlin, both 16, and Russell King Jr., 17. Two other students were wounded.

Lane was waiting for a bus to take him to an alternative school for students who don’t fare well in traditional settings.

Dina Parmertor, mother of Daniel Parmertor, said:

I’m disgusted that it happened. I’m extremely scared and panic stricken. I can’t believe it.

Before Lane’s case went to adult court in 2012, a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent to stand trial despite evidence that he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies.

At his sentencing, Lane was defiant, smiling and smirking throughout, including while four relatives of the victims spoke.

TJ Lane AP T.J. Lane smirks as he listens to the judge during his sentencing in Chardon, Ohio. AP

In a statement early Friday, Chardon school officials said they were closing the schools “given the profound impact of these developments on our entire community.”

Counseling will be available Friday at the high school and middle school for students, staff and members of the community.

Read: US teen pleads guilty to killing three at school>

Read: 17-year-old charged with killing classmates in Ohio school shooting>

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