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School resource officer's son: He's a strong man

Posted at 1:03 AM, Mar 01, 2016

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Among the hundreds of parents anxious to see their children Monday, there was a child anxious to see his dad.

Thomas Hall is a 2014 Madison High School graduate, a Miami University student and a Madison Township trustee. But before any of those things, he is the son of Kent Hall, Madison Jr./Sr. High's school resource officer.

Kent Hall was in the school cafeteria shortly before shots rang out at lunchtime Monday, Sheriff Richard Jones said. Hall heard the gunshots, called for help and tended to the victims while Butler County deputies arrested the suspect, James Austin Hancock. Hancock is charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, inducing panic and making terrorist threats, Jones said.

The shooting wounded four students, though none of their injuries was considered life-threatening.

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"I prayed, personally, to be able to go home to my dad tonight," Thomas Hall said. "I was very thankful for that. I was very thankful for that, and I can't wait to get home and be able to see him, hug him. I don't know. I'm just grateful that everybody's OK, no fatalities."

He said his father is a retired Butler County sheriff's deputy; he's a strong man, the younger Hall said, "and, going forward, he will get even stronger from this."

Thomas Hall spent part of his Monday evening at Turning Point Church for a prayer vigil. On Sundays, the church meets inside Madison Jr./Sr. High School; services are in the school's theater, and kids attend Sunday school in the cafeteria that a day later became a crime scene. Greg Cox, pastor of Turning Point, said his Sunday sermon now gives him chills.

"I made the reference that the river down there, it doesn't keep evil away. It's everywhere, even in a conservative, nice community like Madison," Cox said. "But I never would have dreamed the illustration would have happened the next day."

Cox sees Monday's shootings as a call, a chance to teach and to love, he said.

"We talked to the parents and the teenagers afterwards and told them just, hey, don't let the kids plug out, don't let them put the ear buds in," Cox said. "Love them, talk to them. And things are going to change from here on."

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Hancock was being held Monday night at the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center; he is scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday morning.