CHARDON, Ohio --
A quiet rain fell on the Wilder Road home of Heather Lane, the aunt of 17-year-old shooting suspect, T.J. Lane.
She spoke out Wednesday to Fox 8 News about the pain the teenager has caused his own family, as well as, the entire community. It was her home that agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation searched after Monday's shooting at Chardon High School. Authorities would not say what, if anything, was found on her property. At the time of the search, her nephew was already in custody.
Lane is married to the brother of T.J. Lane’s father, Thomas Lane, III. Six of her eight children go to the Chardon schools, and they are struggling to cope with what their cousin had done.
Lane said her family is very involved in the community. She is the vice president of a Parent-Teacher organization in the district. She said the crimes of which her nephew is accused have hit her family hard.
“It’s very difficult. My older two girls feel like everybody always looks back and says, 'We could’ve, we should’ve,' maybe we should have been more involved in his life, but it’s hard at the teenage years. They all have different interests. They’re all doing different things,” she said.
Lane said her family feels as if they have to apologize for what the 17-year-old did, even though they had very little contact with him.
“He would come and camp with his dad every now and then up in the field. We would see him passing [on] the road and say, 'Hi,' ” she said.
Lane said her family hadn’t had an in-depth conversation with T.J. in three or four years.
“His dad, they would come, to like Christmas whenever he had custody of him to be able to bring him. I mean, it’s really hard with split families to actually all hit in one place at the same time,” she said.
Lane described her nephew as a quiet kid who liked to work hard. She cited as one example, a homework paper he posted to his Facebook account.
“The paper that was online, that everybody was thinking he wrote as a threat, I know it was an English paper. I remember we had family say he got an 'A' on this paper. He was supposed to write in the style of Edgar Allen Poe. His teacher had said she’d never seen a more well-written paper for the project,” Lane recalled.
Lane said she believed it was easy to misinterpret what her nephew had written, given the crimes of which he now stands accused. She said she is praying for the families who’ve been victimized by this tragedy, and she’s praying for Lane, as well.
“I just want them all to be prayed for. They all need strength, and they all need love, and they all need compassion,” she said.
Lane said her nephew’s alleged crimes have caused a deep pain within the family. “I know as a family we definitely feel beyond terrible,” she said. “Some have been crying; some have been angry because we just don’t understand,” she said.