New hearing for Ohio youth charged in school shooting

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting and wounding two students in an Ohio school cafeteria is scheduled to appear in juvenile court to face charges including attempted murder.

A pretrial hearing will be held Thursday for James Austin Hancock in Butler County Juvenile Court.

Defense attorney Charles Rittgers said after a hearing in early April that he didn’t expect the case to go to trial, but Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said at the time that no plea deal was in place.

Hancock was charged in the Feb. 29 shooting at Madison Local Schools near Middletown, north of Cincinnati. Authorities said Hancock, who was 14 at the time, took a relative’s loaded gun to school and opened fire in a cafeteria, hitting two students. Two other students were injured either by shrapnel or while running away. Authorities did not give a motive.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles charged with crimes, but Hancock’s name was widely reported.

Rittgers said Hancock’s family was “in shock” after the shooting because the teen did not have a history of violence or of causing trouble.

Hancock was indicted in March as a juvenile under a serious youthful offender classification on charges of attempted murder, felonious assault and inducing panic. His attorney entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the grand jury had the option of indicting Hancock as an adult but chose to charge him under the juvenile classification. If convicted of attempted murder, he could be sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday, with the possibility of additional time in an adult prison if he committed any violations while in juvenile custody.