High School Shooter Wears ‘Killer’ T-Shirt in Court, Flips Off Victims’ Families

tj laneOver a year ago, a teenager stepped inside Chardon High School in Ohio and fired shots. Three young people died. And today, TJ Lane appeared in court to hear his sentence for those murders. Since Lane was tried as an adult, we expected to hear a stiff sentence. He got life without parole. What we didn't expect was to see TJ Lane remove his blue, button-down shirt revealing a t-shirt reading "killer." As if that wasn't shocking enough, when Lane was asked if he had a statement for the court, he stood up and gave his victims' families the finger.

What a horrifyingly hurtful gesture. Everyone in the room was sickened by it. The victims' families called it "repulsive" and said they hoped he'd stay locked up forever "like an animal." But TJ Lane isn't an "animal." He's not so unfeeling. His shocking performance betrays what's really going on inside him right now, and it's not indifference.

This was such a teenaged boy thing to do. Sometimes, when people are overwhelmed with pain, and anger, and confusion they cannot express, they lash out at others. They do what TJ Lane did, killing his fellow students. And then they put up a front like they don't care. I think Lane is actually terrified out of his fucking mind right now. He's completely freaked out. He doesn't know how his life has come to this, and he's beyond scared about spending the rest of his life in prison. He cannot fathom the hurt he's caused these families, but he can tell it's awful, and this is his refusal to confront it. So what does he do? Front like he doesn't care. Hurt other people even more.

I feel like every time someone commits a horrible act we don't understand, we call it "evil," shrug, and leave it at that. I think that's too easy. I think we can understand, and we must try to understand why people commit these heinous acts. It's not because they're possessed by the devil or they're magic. There are real psychological and societal reasons, if we're willing to do the digging.

Let me be clear: I'm not excusing Lane. He deserves his punishment. But we want to stop people from shooting their peers, don't we? We need to dig deeper, then.

This is one of the worst outcomes of boys being unable to express how their turbulent feelings are (and there's probably mental illness issues involve here as well). But we see it in smaller ways, too. When boys tell their family members they hate them, that they don't care. When boys hit their girlfriends. When they crash their cars. When they get into fights. When they drink too much. Girls do this, too, but violence is much more prevalent with boys. I think a lot of it has to do with boys being unable to identify their difficult, scary feelings and express them. And it's something we all need to confront and deal with. This is our problem.

What do you think TJ Lane's actions in court say about him?


Image via ABC News

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nonmember avatar blue

That stupid smirk will be wiped right off his face when he gets to real prison. I'm sure his life will be HELL there. Fortunately.

momofcfk momofcfk

Fuck he gave me chills!! This is scary to think he has no remorse for what he did. His parents have to be killing themselves thinking they raised a true MONSTER. I don't know about his parents or how he was raised so I am not bashing them...just saying how scary to think you could raise a little baby into a a fucking crazy ass monster!!!

lulou lulou

I week or two ago I got sucked into a  NOVA show on the teenage shooters,  It freaked me out as one of the parents of the shooter talked about how normal his son was, and then had interviewed the son in prison , now 10 or so years later.  And the kind of stuff, whether bullied or not, but the kids perceptions of the world around them, and had all this child development, anatomy, etc about what similarities they are finding, and also how the kids turn into that monsterous state.  One part on stress and the teenage brain kind of hit home, and some old school test they did on stress and seeing a color written in a different color.   Then my kids needed me, I keep meaning to watch the rest.

Barb Horvitz

You are an incredibly large asshole. He is disgusting and should just be killed now.

nonmember avatar eve

wow your a great mind reader. Come on lets get real he didn't beat someone up he SHOT AND KILLED 3 PEOPLE! This is not such a "teenaged boy thing to do". Maybe he smiled because of nerves and anxiety because thats something I can understand... However, he went as far as flipping the families off and writing "killer" on his shirt. It sounds like he has serious problems and NOT the normal teenaged boy kind.

Paws84 Paws84

He deserved the death penalty, now our tax dollars are just going to pay for his food and cable tv for the rest of his life. Awesome. Hopefully he'll get his ass handed to him in prison and become someone's b-tch.

nonmember avatar Krys

When you look at him sitting there smiling he looks to be holding back tears. Looks like he wants to act tough when he isn't. He certainly deserves life for what he has done.

fave82 fave82

Um, adriana, this is NOT normal teenage boy behavior.

RoseL... RoseLiMom

i think that he is hiding behind this behavior, its terrible that three boys lost their lives and their families, i cant imagine their pain...but i agree that we need to look deeper at whats really going on

LuvMy... LuvMyDandD

Why did they allow him to wear that shirt? If he had killed my family member and I had to watch him smile about it that shirt, showing his pride at being a degenerate, all the cops in that court wouldn't have stopped me.

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