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Friends, family remember Ohio school shooting victims

By Moni Basu, CNN
updated 9:46 PM EST, Tue February 28, 2012
Daniel Parmertor, 16, one of the shooting victims, had recently found a job at a bowling alley.
Daniel Parmertor, 16, one of the shooting victims, had recently found a job at a bowling alley.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The last time Domenick Iammarino saw his grandson was at Christmas
  • Daniel Parmertor loved computers and skiing
  • Russell King Jr. was studying alternative energy
  • Demetrius Hewlin worked out at the gym, Cleveland newspaper reports

(CNN) -- In December, Domenick Iammarino drove the 30 miles or so from his home in Solon, Ohio, to deliver Christmas gifts for his grandchildren. For Danny, Iammarino picked out an athletic top and pants.

The teenager loved to ski and lamented to his grandfather the mildness of this winter in Chardon, the unofficial snow capital of Ohio.

If only Iammarino could hear Danny's voice again, see the smile that always slipped from his lips.

Instead Iammarino prepared Tuesday to attend a vigil in Danny's honor.

Daniel Parmertor, 16, was one of three students who died in a shooting at Chardon High School the day before. Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead early Tuesday and Demetrius Hewlin died Tuesday morning, his family said in a statement distributed by MetroHealth hospitals in Cleveland.

One other student remained hospitalized Tuesday while a fifth victim has been released. Their names have not been released.

The students were shot Monday in the school cafeteria. Danny and Russell were waiting for a bus that would have taken them 10 miles down Route 44 to the Auburn Career Center, said Superintendent Maggie Lynch.

Danny was taking a class on the Cisco Computer Network. Russell was enrolled in an alternative energy program. Lynch spoke to CNN before it was known that Demetrius had died.

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Danny learned things like how to combine networks and infrastructure ability. His class even covered computer hacking. Russell's class built solar panels and windmills. The two began taking classes in August at the career center to augment high school courses. They were among the 368 high school juniors from 11 neighboring school districts.

Iammarino's phone rang at about 9:30 Monday morning. What he heard on the line knocked him back, and he struggled to steady himself. Maybe, he thought, it was one of those school scuffles he always heard about on the news. He'd worked as a wrestling coach at Beachwood High School for 30 years. Kids, these days, he thought, were different. They needed more discipline.

Maybe Danny had been shot in the arm, he thought. But then came the news.

Danny's mother, Dina, works as a nurse at Hillcrest Hospital. She had just finished the 7 to 7 shift and was on her way home when she was told to report to another hospital, MetroHealth Medical Center, nearly 45 minutes away. Danny's father, Bob, a boiler technician at First Energy, had also just finished an overnight shift.

Neither would speak to their middle child again.

They were "torn by the loss," they said in a brief statement. "Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him."

Iammarino remembered Danny as an introverted kid. He didn't talk much, but he had a wry sense of humor. Always smiled.

Recently, he'd landed a part-time job at a bowling alley where he maintained the computerized pins.

"He liked repair work," Iammarino said.

By Tuesday afternoon, thousands of people had visited Facebook pages honoring Danny and Russell. Many pledged to wear red, Chardon's school color, in support of the shooting victims and survivors.

"RIP Danny. Such a beautiful life cut way too short. You will never be forgotten," one poster to Danny's memorial page wrote. "My heart aches for your family."

Parmertor's funeral is to be held Saturday.

Tuesday evening, Chardon residents were scheduled come together for a prayer service at the Church of St. Mary, near Chardon High School. They will remember the three who died.

Russell King's family asked that he be remembered "for who he was, a strong boy with a big heart. He will be missed by many. He was so full of life and we are honoring his wishes to help others by donating his organs."

Lynch said Russell was more outgoing than Danny and very sociable. He built good rapport with his teachers and classmates and worked well in teams, Lynch said.

Kendra Teerman posted a message about Russell, her first cousin, on her Facebook page:

"Apparently the Lord had decided to call you home today. Although I disagree with his decision, there's nothing I can do to change it. There are no words to express this sudden loss -- I'm shocked and wishing I was just in a bad dream that I'm going to wake up from. Life is not fair, you were taken from us far too soon!"

Russell's tribute page on Facebook mentioned Demetrius, who was then on life support at MetroHealth. The family did not release a statement about his death until Tuesday afternoon.

"We are very saddened by the loss of our son and others in our Chardon community," they said. "Demetrius was a happy young man who loved life and his family and friends. We will miss him very much but we are proud that he will be able to help others through organ donation."

Drew Gittins, a Chardon football player, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Demetrius worked out often in the school gym.

"He could do squat lifts really good," Gittins told the newspaper. "He showed up for a few football workouts, but I remember him having struggles with his grades."

Other students who knew Demetrius said he often sat in the cafeteria with a few of the other shooting victims.

Chardon student Evan Erasmus said the shooting suspect, described by students as a withdrawn boy named T.J. Lane, knew his victims. However, prosecutor David Joyce said Tuesday that Lane told authorities that he shot at random.

Tuesday, community leaders spoke of healing. Chardon High School was closed for the day. At Auburn Career Center, Lynch opened the doors but brought in grief counselors for students and teachers who needed to talk. And at his home in nearby Solon, Iammarino prepared to attend this evening's remembrance of a grandson for whom he will never be able to buy Christmas presents again.

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