A frantic manhunt for a teenager convicted of killing three students ended early Friday morning, just hours after he and two other prisoners escaped from an Ohio prison.
State Highway Patrol troopers found T.J. Lane hiding in a church, just 100 yards from the fence surrounding the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, which he had scaled about six hours earlier. Two other prisoners who escaped with him, Clifford Opperud and Lindsey Bruce, have also been captured, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Mr. Lane’s escape caused particular alarm because of the nature of his crime and the cavalier attitude he displayed during his trial.
Lane was serving three consecutive life sentences for a fatal shooting spree at Chardon High School in Ohio in February 2012. Daniel Parmertor, Demetrius Hewlin, and Russell King Jr. were killed during the attack. Three other students were wounded during the killing spree, one of whom was paralyzed.
The teen pleaded guilty to firing 10 rounds from a .22-caliber pistol and told the judge that he did not know why he had done it.
He horrified victims' families during the sentencing hearing when he pulled open his button-down shirt to reveal a white T-Shirt with the word “killer” scrawled on it. He reportedly smirked and smiled while relatives of the victims spoke and made obscene gestures as the judge delivered his sentence.
Police officers were stationed Thursday night outside the homes of the victims’ families in Chardon, which is about 200 miles east of the prison. Chardon school officials decided to cancel classes Friday.
“The last several hours have been very difficult as we come to grips with this situation,” Chardon school superintendent Michael Hanlon told reporters during a news conference early Friday morning.
Mr. Hanlon added that counselors would be on hand for students who may experience renewed concerns in the wake of the escape.
Lane is one of eight prisoners at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution who require maximum security, but the prison is a minimum- to medium-security facility. When asked why such an individual was not being held at a maximum-security facility, warden Kevin Jones responded, “That will be something we’ll have to sit down and look at.”
The state's legislative prisons oversight committee conducted an inspection of the facility in April in response to ongoing security concerns. According to a May report released by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, security management "remains a concern, both in terms of how the higher security inmates are handled, as well as discipline for misconduct."
Authorities have not said if Lane and the other two escaped convicts had planned their break together. The three men were found separately. Mr. Bruce was taken back into custody almost immediately after escaping Thursday night, Lane was caught at 1:20 a.m., and Mr. Opperud was apprehended three hours later.
• This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.