Family of Madison H.S. shooting suspect speaks

Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2016 @ 11:39 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 02, 2016 @ 3:36 PM

Accused Madison High School shooting suspect James Austin Hancock, 14, was charged with making terroristic threats because he told others he had a gun and showed it to one person before shots were fired, according Butler County sheriff’s Sgt. Rob Whitlock.

Jill Black, an aunt to James Hancock, sent a statement on the family’s behalf to media Wednesday:

“We are devastated by Austin’s actions at school on Monday. We pray for the immediate recovery of the injured students and for the healing of the entire community. 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. We are praying for everyone involved, including Austin whom we still deeply love. Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for all of the support that has been shown our family and community.”

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Hancock faces six charges in the shooting of two students and injuring of two more students at Madison High School Monday. His attorney entered a not guilty plea Tuesday morning at the Butler County Juvenile Justice Center, where Hancock remains in custody.

The teen suspect talked about having a gun earlier in the day and showed the firearm to someone just before the shooting, Whitlock said. He said someone was in route to tell administrators and that was a pivotal moment.

“That’s when he had to decide whether he was all in or all out. He went all in,” Whitlock said.

The Sergeant also said at this point in the investigation there is no indication bullying was involved in the incident.

Hancock got the gun Saturday from a family member and he had extra ammunition with him Monday morning, according to sheriff’s Maj. Mike Craft.

The Charges

  • 2 counts attempted murder
  • 2 counts of felonious assault
  • Inducing panic
  • Making terroristic threats
  • Next court appearance April 5
  • Could be tried as an adult
  • Hancock’s family, victims’ families in court


Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, who at Tuesday’s arraignment, said he is considering trying Hancock as an adult because of the violent nature and seriousness of the charges, said there is another option as well.

That other option would be for the judge to designate Hancock a “serious youthful offender.”

Gmoser said Hancock, if convicted, would receive a blended sentence meaning an adult sentence over his head if he had further violations while in juvenile detention.

Gmoser said that if Hancock is convicted in juvenile court, he could be sentenced to serve in the Ohio Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday. With a blended sentence, the judge could sentence the offender to adult prison if the offender commits further violations while in the juvenile system.

His considering trying Hancock as an adult “is a starting point, it may be an end point that is a story yet to be told,” the prosecutor said.

A pre-trial hearing has been set for April 5 in front of Judge Ronald Craft.

Rittgers and Rittgers Attorneys at Law in Lebanon is representing Hancock.

Family members of the shooter were tearful and emotional as they sat in the back of the courtroom during Hancock’s arraignment.

A hand-written complaint filed with the court described briefly the allegations against Hancock.

The complaint alleges the suspect brought a loaded handgun to school and fired several shots, hitting two students, which prompted a large law enforcement response and lockdowns not only at Madison High School, where it happened, but also other neighboring schools, Edgewood, Valley View and Middletown, according to the complaint signed by a Butler County sergeant and filed with Butler County Juvenile Court.

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