15-year-old boy indicted as juvenile in Ohio school shooting

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio boy who was 14 when accused of shooting and wounding two students in a school cafeteria was indicted Wednesday as a juvenile on charges including attempted murder.

A grand jury in Hamilton charged the boy under a serious youthful offender classification on counts of attempted murder, felonious assault and inducing panic, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said in a statement.

James Austin Hancock is charged in the Feb. 29 shooting at a Madison Local Schools campus near Middletown, north of Cincinnati. He turned 15 after the shooting.

The complaint filed against Hancock had said he took a loaded handgun into the school, fired “several shots, hitting two students,” causing a lockdown and bringing “a huge law enforcement presence.” The two students shot and two others who were injured — possibly by shrapnel or while running away — were recovering, according to authorities.

Hancock denied initial charges earlier through his attorney. Attorney Charles H. Rittgers didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the indictment.

Law enforcement officials haven’t revealed any alleged motive.

Gmoser’s statement says 18 witnesses testified before the grand jury, which had the option of indicting Hancock as an adult but chose to charge him under the juvenile classification.

Hancock, who has been held in juvenile detention since the shooting, could be sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday if he’s convicted of attempted murder. He also could face time afterward in an adult prison, if he commits violations while being held in a juvenile facility until the age of 21, the prosecutor said.

“Weighing public safety against rehabilitation of a 14-year-old is the primary consideration to avoid a lawless and unjust result,” Gmoser said.

A pretrial hearing has been set for April 5.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify juveniles charged with crimes, but Hancock’s name has been widely reported.


This story has been corrected to show that Gmoser is the prosecutor in Butler County, not Hamilton County, and that Hancock is now 15, not 14.