CHARDON, Ohio — A gunman opened fire inside a high school cafeteria at the start of the school day today, wounding five students, one of whom later died, authorities said. A suspect — believed to be a student — was arrested a short distance away.

The suspect was taken into custody near his car about half a mile from the suburban Cleveland school, said FBI agent Vicki Anderson.

Students screamed and ran in panic through the halls when gunfire broke out around 7:30 a.m. at the 1,100-student Chardon High School.

Freshman Danny Komertz says it appeared the gunman was targeting a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table.

The 15-year-old Komertz said he was just about to leave for his first-period health class today when he heard a loud popping sound and then saw the gunman open fire.

He said one student who authorities say was killed was trying to get under a table to protect himself and shield his face.

Komertz said the shooter was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied.

He said there were at least 100 students in the cafeteria at the time.

Another student, Heather Ziska, 17, said she was in the cafeteria when she and other students heard the popping noises. She said she saw a boy she recognized as a fellow student come into the cafeteria and start shooting.

She said she and several others immediately ran outside, while other friends ran into a middle school and others locked themselves in a teachers’ lounge.

“Everybody just started running,” said 17-year-old Megan Hennessy, who was in class when she heard loud noises. “Everyone was running and screaming down the hallway.”

Television news footage showed anxious parents escorting children away from a school building, and ambulances could be seen outside.

Five students were taken to Cleveland-area hospitals, hospital spokeswomen said.

One student later died, Police Chief Timothy McKenna said at a news conference. The suspect is a juvenile who has not been charged and whose name isn’t being released.

Students at the high school and a middle school had already started their day when the shooting happened, but bus runs for elementary school children were stopped. All classes in the district were canceled.

Parents of high school students were told to go to an elementary school to pick up their children.

Chardon, a city of about 5,100 people, is about 30 miles east of Cleveland.


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