The news we so feared hearing broke early this morning: A second student has died after suffering wounds in Monday's horrific high school shooting in Chardon, Ohio. According to the medical examiner's office, Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead Tuesday. (The first student, Daniel Parmertor, died on Monday; three other students were wounded in the shooting.)
The news is so devastating that many people who have been closely following the case have turned their attention to 17-year-old sophomore T. J. Lane, the suspect in the shooting. With so many reports emerging that Lane may have been bullied at school and comes from a troubled home, it almost sounds like some media outlets are actually beginning to side with alleged shooter. The desperate search for answers is understandable, but justifying his actions and making excuses for him is nothing more than a giant trap.
The FBI has not commented on a motive for the shooting. But one student told law authorities and the media that Lane was "known as an outcast" and had been bullied. (Other students deny this.) Moreover, there have been reports that Lane has a "tumultuous family life" -- namely, his father has been arrested several times for violent crimes against female acquaintances, including Lane's mother. Given his sad background, many media members and readers (particularly in the comments section) seem to be suggesting that Lane deserves a free pass for his horrific crime.
We certainly can have an outpouring of sympathy for the suspect and his troubled past. But if we buy into the belief that people who are bullied will inevitably resort to violence, then we're placing all the blame and responsibility on the shoulders of the school administration, the parents, and the bullies themselves (in this case, allegedly, the students in the cafeteria). And then what? Is this just desserts for their actions? Hardly.
True, all of these people share some piece of what happened, but the person who aimed the gun and pulled the trigger at innocent students must be held accountable for his actions. We can use this opportunity to demand that schools and communities take steps to combat bullying and provide counseling for kids that come from bad family situations. But we can't let someone off the hook just because they have a sad past.
Do you have sympathy for the alleged shooter?
Image via CNN