- (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
The grief-stricken mother of one of the three teens killed in Monday's shooting spree inside an Ohio high school echoed the words Jesus spoke from the cross as she said she had forgiven the suspected gunman, T.J. Lane, who "didn't know what he was doing."
"I forgive him because, a lot of times, they don't know what they're doing," said Phyllis Ferguson, the mother of 16-year-old Demetrius Hewlin who was pronounced dead in a hospital Tuesday, a day after the shooting incident at Chardon High School.
"I taught Demetrius not to live in the past, to live in today and forgiveness is divine," Ferguson, who remembered her son as a "huggy, kissy boy … computer nerd," told ABC News during an interview Wednesday. "You have to forgive everything. God's grace is new each and every day. Until you've walked in another person's shoes, you don't know what made him come to this point."
Ferguson recalled that her son wasn't a morning person and was late for school. "But that one day he wasn't late. We were running a little late, but we weren't late enough. But it's okay. It's in God's hands. Let His will be done … God knew what He was doing. It's not for my understanding, but mine to accept and remember him as he was."
She added that she thought her son would bury her. "He'd say, 'When you get old, Ma, you're going to live with me and we're going to do this.'"
Hewlin had told his parents that he wanted his organs to be donated whenever he died, and his wish was being fulfilled. "He will live after his death," Ferguson said. "For one Demetrius, there's eight people he can help."
Ferguson's son was one of five students who were shot by Lane, a 17-year-old boy, on Monday. Three of them, including 17-year-old Russell King Jr. and 16-year-old Daniel Parmertor, succumbed to their bullet wounds. And the two others, Nick Walczak, 17, and Joy Rickers, 18, were injured. Walczak, paralyzed from the chest down, was still at the hospital on Wednesday night. Rickers had been sent home.
Hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Chardon, a small community of several thousand located around 30 miles east of Cleveland, on Tuesday night to remember the victims.
A bullied and outcast student, Lane allegedly opened fire inside the school cafeteria. He was reportedly raised in an abusive home. Geauga County records show that Lane's father, Thomas Lane Jr., was arrested for violence against women several times. Both of Lane's parents have faced charges for domestic abuse. The father also served time in prison for attempting to suffocate a woman whom he later married.
According to prosecutor David Joyce, Lane admitted to firing 10 shots and allegedly chose his victims randomly.
The Lane family's lawyer, Bob Farinacci, described the suspect as "very, very scared and extremely remorseful."
"He's very confused. He is very upset. He's very distraught," he told WKYC. "This is a very scary circumstance that I don't think he could have possibly even foreseen himself in the middle of."
Authorities were given until Thursday to file charges against Lane, who may face three counts of aggravated murder.