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Could Someone Like Beachwood's Coach Have Helped Chardon Shooter?

Beachwood's longtime "Coach I," whose grandson was a victim of the Chardon shooter, is a mentor to so many. Could a role model like him have helped TJ Lane?

I had not thought about Dom Iammarino, my General Business teacher, in a long time.

I was not the kind of student who kept in touch. I barely kept in touch when I was actually attending Beachwood 30 years ago. I moved away. I have probably written 10,000 checks since Mr. Iammarino - "Coach I" to pretty much everyone at the school, especially his wrestling team - taught us how to fill out the "pay to the order to" section.

Come to think of it, I should have thought of Coach I every time I paid a bill.
I have been thinking about Coach I since Monday, when I found out his 16-year-old grandson was the first to die in the shooting at Chardon High School.

A school shooting is an unspeakable tragedy, anytime and anywhere. Young Danny Parmertor was doing pretty much what my own teenage son does each school day. Hanging around a table with his friends. Maybe eating. Maybe talking about guitars or Xbox or complaining about meddling parents.

Then an alienated kid with a gun came in. Now three boys are dead.

As I said, unspeakable. How does that happen?

Sadly, it can happen anywhere, and we are likely to find out as the story unfolds how TJ Lane, the shooter, got his hands on a gun and how he slipped through the counseling cracks.

If it can happen in Chardon, it can happen anywhere. In fact, it often does. Columbine High School was a nice place. So is Chardon.

Chardon is the kind of rural-suburban place where one goes antiquing. Maybe apple picking. That kind of place. A "let's go for a ride in the country and see the fall leaves" kind of place.

As long as kids can get their hands on guns, it is a "school shooting can happen here" kind of place. As is my neighborhood. And yours.

Ohio laws say a person must be 21, pass a national background check and fill out a firearms transaction record to purchase a gun. They don't need a state permit, firearm registration or owner's license.

Also, a gun buyer can avoid the background check by purchasing at a private sale. And last summer, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a "guns-in-bars law," making it legal to carry concealed firearms into bars, restaurants, malls and other public places.

You can't smoke in any of those places, but you can pack heat. Nice. I now live in Virginia, where the same applies.  Sweet.

We'll find out more about the shooter's mental state in the days to come, but the sickest irony about this story is someone could have helped him. Maybe someone like...Danny Permertor's grandfather.

You know that teacher. The one everyone liked. The kind of teacher who put in 40 years in education in order to guide young minds and mold young athletes. The coach who, even in his 70s, still helped out with the middle school team just for fun.

He was the one kids listened to. I am sure in 40 years of coaching more than a few boys came to the program - which had a run of a dozen state champions in the 1970s and 80s - fidgety, belligerent or lazy.

Even in Beachwood, a community of cozy affluence, there were probably some with troubled home lives. That can happen anywhere too. I am certain they looked to the coach for guidance and support.

Wrestling, like many sports, is a road to discipline. Want to succeed? You have to listen. You have to sweat buckets and do countless drills in a padded room. You have to think on your feet and plan your next move. You have to maintain a GPA that will let you stay on the team. Your arm might be twisted within a few inches of actually snapping off (or so it seems); you cannot let on that it hurts till the match is over.

You have to cut weight. You try losing nine pounds by Friday. It's possible, if you are committed.

My brother was one of Coach I's wrestlers three decades ago. He says he learned everything - or at least the life lessons one needs to get to where they need to go - from wrestling.

My brother started high school as one of the fidgety ones and ended as a runner up in the state tournament. Coach I's influence figuratively screwed his head on right, and he is quite successful today. He still lives in town, where the old wrestlers are a wide network. They would not let someone slip through the cracks, even at age 50.

I wish TJ Lane had had a Coach I in his life. It's beyond tragic that the coach won't have Danny in his.

I am going to go write a check to the Chardon Healing Fund. Click here if you want to do the same. Sign it just the way the coach taught us: with the number close to the end of the box, so no one commits forgery.

Then email the Ohio governor. Sign it just the way I tell you: Governor Kasich - Strengthen gun laws now. Peoples lives are depending on it.

Karen Goldberg Goff is a 1982 Beachwood graduate and the editor of Reston (VA) Patch.

YM Wilks March 01, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Or how about making gun laws more lenient and letting teachers carry guns to protect the children? It has been proven by history, the more gun laws the fewer good citizens don't have them. The criminals and psychopaths will get their hands on them even with strict laws.
evy davis March 02, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Karen, What a nice tribute to a wonderful man, who is going through unspeakable sorrow with his family at this time. I could not agree with you more about gun control. I believe in our constitutional rights, but this is not the wild west. There are many reasons that this troubled boy opened fire and murdered three children and wounded so many of us. But it has been reported over and over that there were guns in the family, and that they engaged in target practice behind the grandparent's house. We don't own a gun in our home. Our kids were not encouraged to play with toy weapons and "shooting" video games were rarely allowed in the home. If one of my kids was troubled enough to cause harm, I feel fairly certain that they would not consider firing a weapon, because they just aren't around. There is no familiarity with guns and no access to any. Maybe if TJ Lane didn't see guns so available, he would not have considered shooting up the cafeteria as an option. I know many will have opinions that are differnt than mine, but I just can't stop thinking that if you get rid of the guns, you get rid of mass shootings. Take care! Evy
YM Wilks March 02, 2012 at 12:54 AM
It is -impossible- to get rid of the guns. There will always be guns in the world. Better have some of them in good hands than only in bad hands.
evy davis March 02, 2012 at 01:23 AM
More guns so that more people could have been shot and possibly killed that day? Of course it is impossible to get rid of guns. My point is that if you allow guns, make them accessible to adults, and kids are rasied around them, then guns/violence is just part of their everyday world. Would it be better if a teacher in that school had a gun and shot TJ and maybe a couple of more kids who got in the way in pursuit of him? I know we have a constitutional right to bear arms, and I am not suggesting that this right be taken away. Many guns that are bought or sold legally end up in the hands of criminals (because they are stolen, as was the case here). If there are less guns easily sold, then less guns to steal, ending up in the hands of criminals and and less violent acts.
Karen Goff March 02, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Thanks, Evy.
Barbara March 02, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I don't understand any part of the need to have a gun around. I have lived in Lakewood all my life (63yrs) and have never been exposed to people who needed to have a gun 'for protection'. Also, I don't know anyone who hunts, so even having guns around for that purpose is foreign to me. Why is there such a need/desire to own or carry around a gun? Haven't the past 2+ generations grown up in a 'use your words' environment, especially in schools? Perhaps the repression of some normally-felt anger has left many young people with no outlet to express their grievances. Instead of allowing folks to blow off steam, anger and rage - whether real or perceived - grows and grows until something like these shootings happens. I am just thinking out loud here. I am not an educator, and I certainly don't have an answer. I'm just thinking back to a time when we went to school, or we sent our children to school, and didn't have to worry whether or not all would be returning home that evening.
Steve March 02, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Apparently Barbara, you never had teenage kids that drove. We don't even talk about how many kids are killed in the U.S. every year, because the media does not play that up, but a school shooting, now that's BIG news. Take away the guns, and only outlaws will have guns. Feel safer now? This is the same logic they use to ban pitbulls. And that is flawed logic at it's best...
Donald R. Thompson March 03, 2012 at 02:48 AM
All kinds of Drugs are illegal...yeah it's that simple just make it illegal....are you people THAT clueless...do you blame the car for drunk driving ? Or blame the boat instead of the Italian captian?
Donald R. Thompson March 03, 2012 at 02:49 AM
There have been school shootings dating back to 1810 in these United States..Look it up
Bison 81 March 03, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Someone getting behind the wheel of a car is certainly dangerous but not in the same universe as the open distribution and lack of control of weapons designed to be concealed and to kill human beings. I believe in the second amendment but the combination of Lang's access to guns and his threatening Facebook posts cry out for a school/ government effort to identify potentially unstable individuals, get them out of schools, into treatment and away from guns. I know this is more government involvement in the lives of people but the harm and heartbreak caused by these situations, which fit an identifiable profile and pattern, justify the intrusion. Social media has to be monitored and threatening statements need to be treated like They would be in an airport.
Donald R. Thompson March 03, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Benjamin Franklin said it most succinctly: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Butch lapsley March 03, 2012 at 05:35 PM
That's a nice quote but taken out of context like so many of the founders are by the right. By 1775 Franklin believed that those in the colonies who blindly accepted the dictates of Lord Grenville's Proclamation of 1763, the dismissal of the colonial Declaration of Grievances 1766, and the long list of Parliamentary acts towards the colonies without their consent between 1770-1774 did not deserve liberty. To accept the tyrannical actions of the Parliament because it was easier than the alternative was the poorest of excuses. Those who were willing to exchange their liberty for the easy way out do not deserve either. Does not really apply to a little common sense government to avoid more dead kids? Just saying.
Donald R. Thompson March 04, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Butch, The comment is relevant to the subject in words of caution only, not that it was contextual to the 2nd Amendment or guns at all. I would say that ANY of the BOR is ESSENTIAL LIBERTY. I know it may hurt some folks delicate sensibilities but the 2nd Amendment gave the right to the people and as there was no such thing as standing armies at the time, it was to keep the militia in check and not to arm the militia like some wrongly believe.
Donald R. Thompson March 05, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Just at the Federal level, Lane could be charged with "beneficial possession of a firearm", and God bless the idiot that allowed him access to the gun. There's one and two. Illegal possession of a firearm would be three. Unlawful transportation is likely a Federal and Ohio statute, but we'll call that four. Carriage of a concealed firearm by a juvenile is five, and likely a state charge. And that's just a partial litany off the top of my head. Murder, conspiracy, use of the internet to post terrorist threats, etc., come to mind as well, but they are not gun charges per se. Use of a firearm in the commission of a crime is six. Violation of the gun free school laws is seven. Do I really need to go on? If convicted on every charge, this mook will never see the light of day. The larger issue is, how would taking your guns and my guns have prevented this tragic murder in Chardon? Oooh, looks like I'm going to irritate the District Attorney's Association again when I opine that they'll toss most of the charges, and try for a conviction on murder. That's how DA's maintain a 95% disposition rate. I can hook you up with a guy that has reams of datum showing gun charges tossed out, and criminals consequently being returned to society way too soon.
Anabell Jones January 11, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Always teach kids gun safety so when they get older this won't be AS big of a problem http://www.airsplat.com/airsoft-safety.htm
evy davis January 11, 2013 at 09:35 PM
How ironic is it that almost one year after this horrible event, we are still having deep conversation about guns since our country has experienced several more mass shootings? How desensitized have we become to this occurance? The issue was not that the shooters did not know gun safety. The issue is that they were troubled and easily obtained weapons. These shooters knew everything about guns. AND I still contend that arming teachers and others in the school is a really stupid idea. I promise you that there will MANY sensless incidents if the answer is "arm the teacher." I have spoken to many teachers and they DO NOT want the responsibility of having a gun in the classroom. It is dangerous and doesn't solve the problem. WHEN will the NRA get off their spoapbox and realized that no one's constitutional rights will be lost if we are more careful about WHO gets guns, how we track and educate people who want to be gun owners and make provisions to better help the mentally ill.
Murphy-Solon January 12, 2013 at 01:08 AM
It's not about the Second Amendment, it's about $$$$$$$$$.
bob lang January 12, 2013 at 03:25 AM
You say it's been proven by history but offer no tangible proof. Come up with some facts.
bob lang January 12, 2013 at 03:29 AM
Do you think our Founding Fathers would have given the village idiot a gun?

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