Both juveniles knew that the shooting suspect — James Austin Hancock, 14 — brought a weapon into Madison Junior-Senior High School in Middletown, Ohio, but didn’t alert authorities, Butler County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Melissa Gerhardt said.
The sheriff’s department claimed that Hancock “showed the gun to both boys early in the school day.” Then, at lunchtime, gunshots rang out in the cafeteria in the community of about 50,000 people between Dayton and Cincinnati.
Four students suffered injuries in Monday’s incident — two hit by bullets, with the other two hurt “either by shrapnel from the handgun or by injuries getting away from the active shooter,” according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones — before Hancock was taken into custody.
The teenager faces charges of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, inducing panic and making terrorist threats.
In court Tuesday, his lawyer denied those charges on behalf of his client.
The two unnamed 14-year-old boys charged with failing to report a crime — namely, that Hancock had a gun on school grounds — have been issued summons to appear in juvenile court at a later date, according to Gerhardt. They have not been taken into custody, nor are there any plans to arrest them, and the charge they face is a 4th degree misdemeanor.
“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,” Jones said Friday in a news release. “Schools are supposed to be safe for kids and anyone working there.”
Others charged at county’s schools
Authorities haven’t explained why Hancock allegedly opened fire, though Jones did note, “It seems as there (are) more school shootings (and) police officers being shot.”
The sheriff added, “It’s the times we live.”
His office noted several other alarming incidents this week at Butler County schools.
At Madison, the same school where Monday’s shooting occurred, a 15-year-old student was charged with illegally bringing a weapon onto school grounds after bringing knives disguised as credit cards into school, Gerhardt said.
The Butler County sheriff’s office also noted two other incidents about 7 miles away at Edgewood City Schools.
A 12-year-old student there faces a felony charge of making terroristic threats by saying at school that he was ready for another school shooting and vowing to bring a gun to school.
And a second student from the same school district, this one 14 years old, faces the same charge after allegedly making threats over social media
Jones, the Butler County sheriff, praised those who came forward, alerted authorities and helped them quickly address all these cases. Still, he also acknowledged the various “bad decisions.”
“It is troubling that all these kids are so young,” he said. “This has to start in the home. We are taking all threats extremely serious, we don’t have a choice.”