Teen in Ohio school cafeteria shooting cited bad home life

CINCINNATI (AP) — A 15-year-old boy who opened fire on fellow students in a school cafeteria complained about his home life when questioned about why he did it, a detective states in a report released Friday.

James Austin Hancock pleaded guilty to four attempted murder counts and one count of inducing panic in the February shooting at Madison Local Schools near Middletown. A judge earlier this month ordered him held in juvenile detention until he turns 21, when he will be free if he stays out of trouble.

The boy’s motive hasn’t been clear. He said before sentencing that he wanted the victims to know they weren’t targeted.

In a Butler County sheriff’s report released after a public records request by The Associated Press and other news organizations, a detective says Hancock gave his “home life” as the reason for the shootings. He said the boy had taken a Sig Sauer P238 handgun from his grandmother’s home the night before.

“His mom doesn’t watch any of his sporting events and dad was on his case for his grades and he has a lot of chores. Hancock further stated he was always grounded,” the report by Detective Michael Barger said. The report said a female student was going to report that Hancock had a gun in his backpack, and he started shooting because “he knew he didn’t want to go home.”

A message was left Friday for his attorney, Charles H. Rittgers. Rittgers said on the day of sentencing that Hancock’s family was happy the case was handled in the juvenile system and was hopeful he could get any help he needs while in custody.

Barger said Hancock didn’t have a specific target, but “just fired at a group of kids.” Two students were wounded by gunfire; two others were hurt by shrapnel or while running away.

Two other students still face misdemeanor charges of not reporting a crime. Authorities said they knew Hancock took a gun to school.

Barger’s report showed that Hancock first displayed the gun to other students at 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria at breakfast and, three hours later, took the gun from his backpack and put it into his lunchbox. He went into the bathroom with two other students at 10:58 a.m. to load the gun, put the safety on, and then he went back into the cafeteria and displayed the gun again, the report stated. The other students’ names were redacted.

The report states that Hancock started firing at 11:17 a.m., then fled the school and gave himself up, at 11:39 a.m. according to another police report, in a nearby field after being surrounded by police.


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