WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today delivered back-to-back remarks on the Senate floor to honor the victims of the shootings at Chardon High School on February 27. Brown and Portman paid tribute to the three students that have died as a result of the shootings—David Parmertor, Russell King, Jr., and Demetrius Hewlin, as well as the two students still recovering from their injuries, Joy Rickers and Nick Wajczak. The senators also recognized the heroic efforts of local educators, law enforcement, families, and medical professionals in Chardon.
Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.
I join my fellow Senator from Ohio, Senator Portman, to offer our condolences and prayers to the people of Chardon, Ohio – who experienced a terrible tragedy earlier this week.
On the morning of Monday, February 27, 2012, a troubled young boy opened fire in the crowded cafeteria at Chardon High School. Three students were killed. Two more were wounded. The entire community remains shaken.
As fathers, we can’t imagine the loss of a child – and the loss of innocence of children who will now grow up knowing tragedy all too early.
But as Senators, we couldn’t be more proud of the resiliency, love, and compassion that the people of Chardon have shown in the wake of such fear and sorrow.
During the shooting, teachers and school administrators risked their own lives to protect and save the lives of their students. Assistant Football Coach Frank Hall chased the gunman out of the cafeteria. Principal Andy Fetchik called 911 – and countless other teachers provided safety and comfort until help could arrive. Chardon law enforcement and first responders – from the 911 dispatchers to the police to EMTs – arrived to the scene to apprehend the suspect and restore calm and order. Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland, Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna and their team – especially the three officers who rushed to the school – did an outstanding job. Hospital staff at Metro Health and Hillcrest cared for the victims – and counseled to the families of lost ones.
And out of this week’s turmoil and tragedy, we remain proud of the community coming together through vigils and prayer services – through support and the Red Ribbons worn. The day after the shooting, more than 1,000 people crammed into St. Mary’s Parish, across from Chardon High School. An overflow crowd of another 1,000 was outside – listening to Principal Fetchik express how proud he was of the students.
Yesterday, President Obama spoke to Principal Fetchik to say how proud he was the community’s response.
At the prayer service, Superintendent Joseph Bergant explained why the school would close for a few days this week – to reflect, for students and families to get the help they need, and for parents to hug their children, and for children to hug their parents. Yesterday I spoke with the Superintendent Joseph Bergant to express Connie’s and my gratitude and prayers.
The investigation into how and why this happened will continue. But resilience, compassion, and love will remain.
Tomorrow, classes resume in Chardon – and at Lake Academy and Auburn Career Center, where students and staff are also dealing with the tragedy.
And tomorrow, Chardon High School students will march together from the town square to the school – in a show of solidarity and unity.
They will do so remembering Joy Rickers and Nick Wajczak, who are still recovering from their injuries.
And they will do so honoring their students who are no longer with them.
Daniel Parmertor was a 16-year-old high school junior. He was excited about starting his first job at a bowling alley. And he was so looking forward to picking up his first paycheck.
Daniel’s parents, Bob, a boiler technician with First Energy, and mother, Dina, a nurse at Hillcrest Hospital, were finishing their night shifts when they learned of the shooting.
In their statement, the family said, “Danny was a bright young boy, who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss.”
He was a dedicated student who also loved snowboarding and video games and computers. He also enjoyed wing night at Cleats with his friends. He is survived by his parents, siblings, grandparents, a great-grandmother, and numbers aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Russell King, Jr. was 17 years old. His friends described him as sociable, who got along with everyone. A junior, he was also enrolled in both Chardon High School and the Auburn Career Center – and was studying alternative energies like solar and wind power.
Demetrius Hewlin was 16 years old. Affectionately known as “D” to his friends and family, Demetrius was very interested in healthy living, staying active, and playing computer games and reading books.
In their statement, his family said, “We are very saddened by the loss of our son and others in our Chardon community. Demetrius was a happy young man who loved life and his family and friends. We will very miss him very much, but we are proud that he will be able to help others through organ donation.”
He is survived by his parents, grandparents, a brother and sister, and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins.
On behalf of all Ohioans – and the U.S. Senate – we offer our continued prayers and condolences to Chardon community.
An excerpt from Sen. Portman’s remarks is below.
“My wife Jane and I have been keeping the victims, their families, and the whole Chardon community in our thoughts and prayers. We mourn the students whose lives were cut short, full of the promise of youth and we will always remember them. We need to make sure that we continue to pull together, to support the kids, their parents, and the community.”