A 14-year-old boy has been taken into custody after four students were injured in a shooting at an Ohio high school. Authorities apprehended James Austin Hancock on the morning of February 29 after an incident in the cafeteria of Madison High in the town of Middletown. Police responded around 11:15 a.m. to reports of an “active shooter.”
A Butler County sheriff’s spokesman said that the suspect shot Cameron Smith, 15, and Cooper Caffrey, 14, with a .380 handgun and then fled the scene. Both of those students were rushed to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Brant Murray, 14, and Katherine Doucette, 14, suffered ancillary wounds caused by shrapnel in the incident. The town of Middletown is located around 50 miles north of Cincinnati.
The teenager is charged with two counts attempted murder and two counts of felonious assault. He is not being charged as an adult.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect ‘Fired 6 Rounds & Shot 2 Students,’ According to a Witness
A source told Heavy.com that Hancock walked into the school’s cafeteria and fired six rounds from his .380 handgun. That student at Madison high said Hancock hit Smith and Caffrey. One student, Owen Palmer, wrote on Twitter:
8th grade students! reacted by gathering peers and rushing out emergency exits and out through the gym, to me this is awesome. Life savers.
Meanwhile another student told the media that he was walking out of the library when he heard one shot, a pause and then “bang bang bang bang.” He said that he thought the gun shots were dropped cafeteria trays.
The Butler County Sheriff’s office says that Hancock then fled the scene but was apprehended soon after. A sheriff’s deputy was working in the school at the time of the shooting. Our source says that Hancock had left his class to go to the cafeteria and that he was “not a part of that lunch.”
You can listen to the horrifying 911 call here:
2. One Father Said Students Told Him the Suspect Had a ‘Smirk’ on His Face
One parent with a child in the school told WKRC’s Larry Davis that the suspect had a “smirk” on his face.
Without going into specifics, authorities have said that they have an idea of what Hancock’s motive was but wouldn’t be announcing it publicly. Our source speculates, “It could range from anything bullying to home life motives.” Another student at Madison told Heavy, “Some kids just don’t know when to stop bullying. That’s when kids take it too far and children get shot.”
One student told Local 12 how shocked he was that Hancock had been named as the suspect saying, “I was just shocked, I didn’t expect it to happen at a small school like ours. Everyone here is, like, friends and know each other real closely.”
While another told the station, “I’m really shocked because, like, you see this kid everyday in the halls and you wouldn’t expect, just one day, just pull a gun out of his lunchbox and start lettin’ rounds off.”
3. 2 of the Injured Students Were Rushed Via Helicopter to a Local Hospital
None of the injuries were considered to be life-threatening. WLWT reports that the two students who were shot were transported to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton via AirCare. It had originally been reported that only three people had been injured, that number was later upgraded to four. Two people were shot, two were injured by shrapnel.
Dr. Peter Ekeh at Miami Valley Hospital said that both Smith and Caffrey should make a full recovery. One of the boys was hit in the thigh and buttocks while another was shot in the left arm. Neither student needs surgery and both should be released in a few days. A witness, Shelby Kinin, told WCPO’s Evan Millard: “I saw 1 of the kids grab their leg & fall. The kid that was shooting, he had the gun & he ran out of the school.”
4. He Is on the School’s Wrestling Team
A student at Madison High School told Heavy.com that Hancock is on the school’s wrestling team, as is Cooper Caffrey. Authorities have not said where they think the suspect got the gun. Hancock’s great grandfather was an “avid hunter, life member of National Rifle Association, a Republican National Committee contributor,” according to his obituary. That tribute says that Hancock’s parents are Joe and Sarah Hancock. The couple have two younger daughters in addition to their son.
5. The School Is Rated as ‘Excellent’ by the Ohio Department of Education
According to the school’s website, it was established in 1961. The school’s principal is named William Fisher Jr. On their Facebook page, the facility’s motto is given as, “”Achieving Excellence One Student at a Time.” That social media page says the school is “Rated “Excellent” by the Ohio Department of Education.”
A representative of the school, AJ Huff, told WCPO in the aftermath of the shooting, “The teachers were calm, collected and quiet. They did a great job at keeping the students safe. When we got the call, I immediately knew what to do.” Meanwhile Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich said, “It’s a tragedy. … We don’t know what’s behind it yet. … Thank God that no life was lost.” The Unity Baptist Church in the area held a prayer vigil after the attack at 6:30 p.m.
School activities and classes in the Madison district were canceled on March 1, the day after the shooting.