Madison Township school shooting provides lessons on how to prevent others

Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 19:44:04-05

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- It's been two years since James Austin Hancock shot two of his classmates at Madison Jr./Sr. High School. But some students remained scarred from the incident, both physically and mentally. 

Psychologist Dr. Stuart Bassman said watching for red flags could prevent tragedies like this. 

"Really, what we need to focus on is prevention," he said. "How can we stop this from happening again? And one of the ways we can do that is to recognize the warning signs. 

Bassman reviewed a nearly-100 page deposition in the case, detailing the teenager and his life leading up to the school shooting.  

"Were people hearing him? Obviously not," Bassman said. 

Hancock described being ignored by his parents and, at times, feeling unwanted. He also struggled at school. 

Bassman said those are the beginnings of the four signs to look for: depression, emptiness, anger and despair.

"It really is a cry for help," he said. "We as a nation really need to heed these cries and respond to them."

Some psychologists say promoting connections could potentially prevent future school shootings.

"What we can do is help them connect to others," Bassman said. "The more than someone has an intimate, genuine connection, the less likely they are to act out."

The other issue, experts say, is the physical access to guns at home. Hancock admitted he stole the gun he used from his grandma's unlocked cabin. It was a mistake gun safe advocates like Steve Woods of Acme Lock & Door said could have been avoided.

"A gun should be safely stored in a locked case," Woods said.