Ohio native Connie Schultz examines the true character of the town that was recently rocked by a school shooting, in her column, “What Everyone Should Know About Chardon, Ohio:”
Before this week, most of the country never had heard of Chardon, Ohio.
Now millions know it as home to the deadliest school shooting in seven years.
There is no escaping this tragic narrative, but it does not come close to telling the whole story of this close-knit community. In that way, Chardon is like every small town we never have heard of until something too horrible for words swallows it whole.
No matter where you live in America, you likely know that on Monday morning, a troubled boy walked into the cafeteria of Chardon High School and opened fire, killing three students and injuring two others.
You may know that thousands of people showed up for a memorial service the next evening, bearing candles and prayers and a fear of what comes next, and that one of the teenage victims has indicated on his driver’s license that should he die, he wants to donate his organs.
You also may know that 17-year-old T.J. Lane surrendered to police within an hour of the shootings and confessed to the crime. You probably have learned that he told police the shootings were random and that he didn’t know the students he killed. Perhaps you heard that he was a quiet boy, a loner, whose parents had been locked in a cycle of domestic violence and that he recently was living with grandparents.
It is clichéd to say Chardon was a town full of parents who thought that such a crime never could happen there. No matter where we live, we want to believe — we need to believe — that we’ve carved out an exception to life’s randomness. How else could a parent get out of bed every morning?