60 Minutes: The Shooting at Chardon High
What do you call someone who runs toward danger? Though football coach Frank Hall resists the label of “hero,” it seems apt. He spoke with 60 Minutes about the second anniversary of a school shooting at Chardon High School.
Three students were killed and two were wounded in the rampage, and Hall said that he wishes none of it had ever happened. Hall was monitoring students before class on a regular morning. When faced with the sound of gunfire, Hall acted on instinct, and Scott Pelley heard the story of what happened afterward.
60 Minutes: Frank Hall School Shooting Hero
The shooting took place on February 27 2012, in Chardon, a town of 5,000. To this day, no one really knows the motive behind it. The high school had been ranked excellent for 13 consecutive years. Teacher Tim Armelli heard the first shots and a 911 call from the school came in after 7:30 a.m.
Armelli said that he did not know whether he would see his wife again, because it is such an unpredictable situation. He is the one who called for lockdown on that morning, when student T.J. wore a T-shirt that said “Killer.” Hall sat with his wife to recall how he charged at the gunman, dodging behind a soda machine to miss a bullet.
Hall pursued the gunman through the halls, and once he got within a few feet of the shooter, Hall could do nothing but watch as student Nick Walczak was shot in the back and paralyzed. Walczak remembered that Hall reassured him that he would return, even as the coach continued after the active shooter.
60 Minutes: Frank Hall Chardon High
Hall managed to chase T.J. out the doors, where he disappeared into the parking lot. The entire incident took place in under a minute. But that was enough time to claim the lives of victims Daniel Parmertor, Demetrius Hewlin, and Russell King. Hall said he prayed for the victims, because it was clear that the outlook was grim.
“They were still breathing. They were trying to fight. What was only a couple minutes seemed like forever,” Hall said of waiting for the emergency personnel to arrive. “I’m so thankful, very thankful that I could be there.”
Armelli confirmed that Hall acted against the school’s emergency plan to shelter in place, motivated instead by a paternal instinct as a caretaker. “I just reacted that day,” Hall said when Pelley asked him about the plan.
60 Minutes: Frank Hall Family
Nate Mueller could have easily been killed that day, when a bullet tore through his ear. He can say what it is like to look at the barrel of a gun. He talked to 60 Minutes about the actions of Hall, who put himself in harm’s way for the students of the school.
The gunman surrendered to police in the woods near the school. He pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, without parole, according to Scott Pelley. But he never said why he did what he did, and 60 Minutes deferred to the community’s wishes not to publicize his name or image.
Hall texted his wife Ashley with the message “I’m OK,” but she had no idea what had really gone on at school that day. He didn’t think until after the fact about his family, which includes four adopted foster kids: Christian, Quincy, and twins Mark and Shawn.
60 Minutes: America School Shootings
Frank Hall said he cannot understand why America has become accepting and resigned to school shootings. He thinks that parents and educators need to make a stand to protect the future of our youth. He said that, while Columbine was remembered around the world, it is hard to recall all the school shootings that have taken place since then.
Three days after the shooting, students returned to campus, and Armelli credited Frank’s courage with keeping the school safe for the campus family. On the first day classes resumed, the student body of 1,100 marched arm in arm back onto their campus.
Back then, Hall spoke to the assembled and said that he was not a hero. He said the thank yous just remind him of the three young men who were killed. “You just want so bad to be able to take them home,” he said. “Sometimes I get mad about it, I get angry.”
60 Minutes: Frank Hall Homecoming
Though Coach Hall returned to Chardon High School, he was still haunted by the memories of that fateful day. He was also moved in horror about what took place 10 months later, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Later, he left Chardon High School. In Ashtabula County, Hall felt called to reach out to an impoverished community with a struggling football team whose head coach left the school. Tyree Meeks and Damondre Haywood said that he changed everything and has been teaching them more than simply football.
He required the entire team to apologize to a teacher when a few of them talked back. Hall has demanded more from the students, who have turned their losing record around. Recently, the team found itself competing against Chardon High, back on Hall’s old turf. He said that occasion made him thankful for everything he does have, and for the community he gets to be a part of. Though Chardon beat out Hall’s new team, it was a warm reception and a remarkable homecoming.