SHAFAQNA – A teenager serving a life sentence in the shooting deaths of three Cleveland-area high school students in 2012 was caught about 100 yards from the Ohio prison fence he had scaled to escape just hours earlier, officials said on Friday. T.J. Lane, 19, who was sentenced to life without parole last year in the attack at Chardon High School, escaped on Thursday with two other inmates from the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, in northwestern Ohio, warden Kevin Jones said at a news conference outside the facility.
Lane was found early Friday in a wooded area close to the prison, officials said. The other two inmates also were recaptured.
It was not clear why Lane was placed at the facility, which is about 200 miles east of Chardon and houses mostly lower risk prisoners who require minimum security.
“We are going to have to sit down and take a look at it and determine if Allen Oakwood was the place he was supposed to be,” Jones said.
The union representing prison guards said on Friday that staff warned officials on Wednesday that an escape was being planned. While one inmate was put in segregation, no additional measures were taken, according to the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.
Prison officials were not immediately available for comment on the union statement. The union said it has repeatedly warned officials about security flaws at the facility.
According to the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, an Ohio prison oversight group, eight of the facility’s 1,645 inmates require maximum security.
All three inmates were transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown on Friday, identified by the oversight group as a “supermax” facility, used for inmates who pose the highest security risk.
Lane was arrested shortly after the February 2012 attack and confessed to firing a .22-caliber pistol at students in the school cafeteria, killing Demetrius Hewlin, 16, Russell King Jr., 17, and Daniel Parmertor, 16.
Three others were wounded, including one who was paralyzed.
At his sentencing last year, Lane wore a T-shirt with “killer” scrawled on it. Lane was sentenced to three life terms for the murders and 37 years for wounding the other students.
The rampage was one of several mass shootings in the United States in 2012, including the massacre of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
(Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech)