PD: Home life prompted Madison High School student James Austin Hancock to shoot

Newly released court documents reveal motive
Posted at 10:48 AM, Jun 17, 2016

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio -- Newly-released court documents shed some light on why a 15-year-old boy opened fire on fellow students in a Butler County school cafeteria.

James Austin Hancock told police he made the decision to shoot in Madison High School when he picked up the gun, a Sig Sauer P238, and put it into his backpack that morning, according to documents requested by WCPO news partner The Journal-News.

“The reason he gave for shooting was his home life. His mom doesn’t watch any of his sporting events and dad was on his case for his grades and has a lot of chores. Hancock further stated he was always grounded (at least seven months out of the year),” the investigation report says.

In the report, written by Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Michael Barger, Hancock said when a girl was on her way to tell school authorities about the gun in his backpack, “he knew he didn’t want to go home and started (shooting).”


Hancock was sentenced earlier this month to juvenile detention until he is 21 years old. He will be free at age 21 unless he causes problems in juvenile custody, which could lead to possible time in the adult prison system.

Hancock spoke in court before learning his fate, saying, “I would like the victims to know they were not targeted.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Sharon Phillips said teenagers turn to violence when their stressors outweigh their resources.

“Stressors for a teen can be kind of social problems, difficulties with friends or peers,” Phillips told WCPO. “It can be a difficult home life. It can be school stressors. It can be isolation from certain activities.”

Phillips declined to comment on Hancock’s case but said, generally, parents who see a prolonged change in their teen’s mood or behavior should take note and seek treatment for the child.

Two other juveniles have been charged with not reporting a crime. They are charged with the misdemeanor after not reporting that Hancock had shown them the gun he would eventually use earlier in the day.