One week after an eighth-grader at Madison Jr./Sr. High School shot two classmates, district leaders are meeting with students and parents this week.
In a letter that was sent home with students, the district called last week “a very long and trying week” after James Austin Hancock, 14, allegedly shot two classmates and two more were injured during a lunchroom shooting Feb. 29.
Gunfire rang out Monday morning during the lunch period at Madison Jr/Sr High School.
Accused shooter, James Austin Hancock, 14, reportedly fired a warning shot into the ceiling before aiming at students, said Drew Williams, a Madison 8th grader, an eyewitness from the lunchroom.
Two students were hit with bullets, 15-year-old Cameron Smith and 14-year-old Cooper Caffrey, and two others injured while escaping, 15-year-old Brant Murray and 14-year-old Katherine Douchette. All students are expected to make full recoveries.
Hancock was apprehended in a nearby wooded field, and appeared in Butler County juvenile court Tuesday on six counts, including attempted murder, inducing panic and making terroristic threats. He pleaded not guilty.
He reportedly told others he had a gun, and showed the gun to at least one of student, prior to the shooting. A student reported the gun to administration but the gunfire had already started.
Two more juveniles were charged March 4 in connection to the shooting at Madison High School, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
Butler County sheriff Richard Jones spoke in a press conference Friday, urging parents to speak with their children about reporting crimes they see.
“Kids sometimes think this is funny and they get a lot of attention,” Jones said. “I want to assure you … this is not a good time to be joking about guns and blowing things up.”
Jones said there is a motive in the Monday shooting allegedly done by James Austin Hancock, but he couldn’t elaborate on what the motive is.
“These boys had knowledge that the suspect, James Austin Hancock, had the gun at school, and they did not tell anyone,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones in a release. “I have to stress, it is imperative that if there is rumor or first-hand knowledge about any type of weapon or weapons that someone has or is intending to bring to school, it has to be reported to someone.”
Butler County sheriff’s investigators have said Hancock reportedly got the gun from a relative on Saturday and was found with extra ammunition.
“We are devastated by Austin’s actions at school on Monday. … Our family has lived in this community our entire lives and we never expected anyone to experience the event that occurred on Monday, and we certainly did not expect that one of our family members would be involved,” the statement reads in part.
Hancock is being represented by Rittgers and Rittgers Attorneys at Law in Lebanon. His next court hearing is scheduled for April 5.
Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he’s considering a number of options in prosecuting Hancock, including trying him as an adult due to the violent nature and seriousness of the crime.
School Resource Officer Kent Hall had been in the cafeteria moments before the shooting, heard the gunfire and returned to see Hancock running.
“He immediately called in an active shooter,” said Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Anthony Dwyer.
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