(CNN) — T.J. Lane didn’t belong to any particular clique in the schools he attended, fellow students said. Even those who knew described him as quiet, someone who was guarded, seemingly sad at times, but nice once you broke through the wall that he put up around himself.
But they never would have thought that he’d be described as a killer — until Monday, when two students told CNN they saw Lane walk up to a table in the cafeteria of Ohio’s Chardon High School and begin firing. The suspect was arrested a short time later, after being chased from the school by a teacher. Police have not identified the alleged gunman except to say he is a juvenile.
One person died in the shooting, while four others were wounded, authorities said.
Haley Kovacik, a friend who talked with Lane a few times a week, said the violence left she and others who knew him in “complete shock.”
“He seemed like a very normal, just teenage boy,” Kovacik said of Lane. “He did have a sad look in his eyes a lot of the time, but he talked normally, he never said anything strange.”
Yet for all their talks, Kovacik noted there was a lot she didn’t know about Lane.
It is something that Torilyn LaCasse noticed as well. She told CNN that she “gravitated toward him,” having “noticed that all the kids made fun of him and I just wanted to get to know him.” She said it took a long time to “break through the wall” and get to know him.
“He turned out to be a really great person,” LaCasse said.
Yet Lane, who lived with his grandparents, remained slow to open up about his personal life, according to friends. While he was known by many around Chardon High School, located 30 miles east of Cleveland, at the time of the shooting he was there to be transported to Lake Academy Alternative School in Willoughby, which the school’s interim director Don Ehas said he attended.
Things weren’t easy at school, Lacasse said. She said she personally saw Lane being picked on for everything from his hair, to his clothes, to his quiet personality.
“He wouldn’t say anything, he’d just look at the ground (and) take it, and kind of laugh about it. But I can tell,” LaCasse said. “I mean, you can laugh about it, but it still hurts.”
Still, that’s not to say that she — and others who knew Lane — would ever have predicted what happened Monday coming.
Evan Erasmus, who said his family knew Lane’s family, was among several students who said what happened Monday took them totally by surprise.
“I was really shocked when I found out it was him,” Erasmus said. “He was quiet, but was one of the nicest kids there. You could talk to him really easily. He was funny.”
According to Kovacik, Lane told her that “he enjoyed hunting, he enjoyed video games, just normal things.”
“Everybody was in disbelief. Nobody could believe that T.J. (shot the students),” Kovacik said.
Recent posts on Lane’s Facebook page show him sharing links to music videos from groups like Grimes and Blood on the Dance Floor, listing his sister in his profile and uploading photos of himself.
Yet one long, poetic rant, from December 30, appears to be darker.
The post refers to “a quaint lonely town, (where there) sits a man with a frown (who) longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet.”
“He was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain,” he wrote.
Lane then writes about going through “the castle … like an ominous breeze through the trees,” past guards — all leading up to the post’s dramatic conclusion.
“Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you,” he writes. “Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.”
After getting three positive reviews, Lane wrote: “much obliged to all who ‘liked’ this. Wrote it myself in class one day…”
LaCasse, though, said Lane did “not once” talk about avenging those who frustrated him, teased him or otherwise hurt him.
She said that she cannot for a moment defend what happened Monday. But she says she believes there is more to Lane — including, perhaps, a great amount of pain — that few, if any, fully understand.
“Yes he was a sweet person, but I think what he went through as a child definitely changed him and affected him greatly,” said LaCasse.
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