Chardon Teacher Says He ‘Prayed’ with Shooting Victims

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CHARDON, Ohio --

A football coach who acted heroically Monday morning as a teenaged gunman opened fire inside of Chardon High School spoke out for the first time publicly Thursday afternoon.

Assistant Coach Frank Hall struggled to hold back the tears as he recounted part of what happened inside of the school cafeteria.

"I ask you to be patient with me," said Hall. "It's an emotional time."

Witnesses say Hall chased the suspected gunman, 17-year-old T.J. Lane, out of the cafeteria, putting his own life at risk.

Chardon junior Heather Ziska was there when it happened.

"He charged at him. It was the most courageous thing I've ever seen anyone do," said Ziska.

Five students were shot. Three later died from their wounds: Daniel Parmertor, 16, Russell King, Jr., 17, and Demetrius Hewlin, 16.

At the press conference Thursday, Coach Hall spoke directly to their families.

"To the families of Danny, Demetrius and Russell: I want you to know I was with them. I prayed with them. I wiped their tears, and I know God was with them," said Hall.

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Although many believe the coaches brave actions prevented more students from being shot, he does not consider his actions heroic.

"I'm just a football coach, study hall teacher and tutor," said Hall. "Law enforcement and first responders who came to our aid that day--they are the heroes."

Although returning to the high school will be challenging, Coach Hall assured students that they will all be there for them Friday when classes resume.

He stressed the importance of getting back to a normal routine as soon as possible so that "evil" wouldn't win.

The school staff and administrators also made changes inside the building to make students feel more comfortable.

"They repainted the cafeteria and rearranged tables, and it felt more comfortable, and to see how much work they put into making us feel comfortable, makes me feel safe there," said Ziska.

Sadly, two classmates also injured in the shooting spree will not be in school Friday.

Joy Rickers, 18, has been released from the hospital, but is recovering at home, while 17-year-old Nate Walczak is still hospitalized at Hillcrest.

*Click here for’s extended coverage on the tragedy in Chardon.

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