MADISON TWP., Ohio – Mattie Cole, a seventh-grader at Madison Jr./Sr. High School, had a typical reaction when she heard who was charged with Monday's shootings at the school.
She never thought it would be James Austin Hancock.
"I see him at school. I say hi to him every now and then. He was really a nice kid, but I never expected him to do this," said Mattie. “I thought it was some older guy who came in and shot instead of somebody from our school.”
Mattie and her mom Jody know the Hancock family. They live two doors down from Hancock's relatives and just across the street from the school.
Jody Cole runs a hair salon out of their house. Some of the Hancocks are her customers, she said.
“Aunts come here [for a haircut], grandma comes here, and they’re really, really awesome people. You would never think a million years it would be connected to them,” Jody Cole said. “You just wonder, was he bullied? Or tortured? I just thank God it was not worse because it could have been.”
Mattie said she didn't go to school Monday because she twisted her ankle over the weekend. But she couldn't get over the idea that she might have been shot in the cafeteria at lunch.
“I couldn’t sleep last night. I was so tired, but I just thought, 'What if that was me who got shot?'" Maddie said. “I would have been leaving lunch at that time.”