MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The shootings at Madison Jr./Sr High School Monday could have been prevented if the two students who knew James Austin Hancock brought a gun to school had spoken up.
That was the message from Sheriff Richard K. Jones and that's why those two 14-year-old boys are facing charges.
"They have drills just like fire drills and we tell them and we tell them and we tell them: 'Report these things when you see them,'" Jones said at a Friday news conference.
The sheriff said Hancock, the accused shooter, showed his gun to the two boys early in the school day, but the two did not report it. They have been charged with failure to report a crime, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
The consequences could have been much worse, Jones pointed out.
"It's hard for these kids to understand that these bullets have no eyes. They could have been the ones shot," Jones said.
And they could have been facing severe charges if anyone had been killed in the shootings.
"It could have been something much more serious, like murder," Jones said. "This is for parents. You better sit your kids down and talk to them."
Jones said the two boys never did come forward even after the shootings and that officials only found out about them during their investigation. The boys' names are not being disclosed at this time. They were issued a summons to appear in Butler County Juvenile Court.
The two boys were not in school Friday and are being disciplined by the school, Jones said. The school district would not say what that discipline is.
Jones also announced that Hancock stole the gun from a relative and no charges would be filed against that relative.
"We know who the gun was taken from. That person had no idea their gun was stolen, so we're not looking at charges," Jones said. The sheriff again encouraged gun owners to lock up their weapons.
The sheriff would not reveal the reason the two boys gave officers for not reporting Hancock had a gun before the shootings.
“These boys had knowledge that the suspect, James Austin Hancock, had the gun at school, and they did not tell anyone," Jones said. "I have to stress, it is imperative that if there is rumor or first-hand knowledge about any type of weapon or weapons that someone has or is intending to bring to school, it has to be reported to someone. Schools are supposed to be safe for kids and anyone working there. Parents should not be afraid to send their kids to school. I strongly urge parents to sit and talk to their kids about how important this is."
The sheriff said the investigation is not over.
"We're still hearing rumors and we have to run those things down," Jones said.
Jones called it a "serious day, a serious week."
"Everybody in that cafeteria was injured psychologically,” Jones said of Monday shootings.
“It’s been a tough week for everybody in that school, in that area."
Jones said there was no connection between the Madison shootings and the arrest of a student with a loaded gun at Middletown High School the same day.
Hancock was arrested within minutes after the shooting and denied six charges of attempted murder, felonious assault, inducing panic and making terrorist threats in Butler County Juvenile Court Tuesday morning.
Hancock's denial of the charges is the juvenile court equivalent of a not guilty plea. Hancock was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victims, and a pretrial date was set for 2:30 p.m. April 5.
Four teens are recovering after the shooting, which happened inside the school's cafeteria during lunchtime Monday.
Cameron Smith, 15, and Cooper Caffrey, 14, were taken to Miami Valley Hospital after they were shot. Dr. Peter Ekeh, the hospital's trauma director, said one of them was shot just one time, and the other was shot multiple times. Neither needed surgery Monday, and both are in stable condition.
According to Madison Local Schools, both boys were "doing very well and are in very high spirits."
Two other students, Brant Murray and Katherine Doucette, both 14, were injured by flying shrapnel or while trying to get out of the way, authorities said. Doucette later posted on Facebook that a bullet grazed her; the injury wasn't serious, she wrote.
Caffrey and Hancock are both Madison wrestlers, according to tournament results.
Aleeanna Carpenter, 14, said if Hancock was troubled, he didn't show it.
"We all walked into the lunchroom," Carpenter said. "Austin was perfectly happy. We were all laughing and giggling and talking about stuff."
Carpenter was sitting at a table with Hancock and two other friends, she said. One of them made a comment about "having a problem" with Smith, Carpenter said, and Hancock asked if he should shoot Smith. Hancock told the group he had a gun, Carpenter said, but she didn't see it until he had it in his hand.
Then, she said, Hancock opened fire. Carpenter recalled hearing five to seven shots.
"It was a black gun," she said. "He pulled it out, and it was the loudest shot ever. And I just saw the bullets like slowly fall by my face."
Carpenter froze with shock, she said, running only when Hancock fled the cafeteria.
Listen to a 911 call from the school:
Hancock was taken into custody on school grounds shortly after running out of the building, the sheriff said. He said the teen used a .380-caliber, semi-automatic firearm.
"He ran from school, threw the weapon down and we retrieved the weapon," Jones said. "Where the weapon came from is a question (we're) trying to answer."
The sheriff also said investigators believe they know a possible motive for the shooting, but they would not release it right away.
Carpenter said she wasn't aware of Hancock being bullied, but indicated that he'd recently broken up with a girlfriend. Wrestling teammate Jordan Eslick said he was shocked to hear Hancock was involved.
"It didn't seem like anything was wrong with him," Eslick said.
The last time someone opened fire in an area school was when a 17-year-old La Salle High School student walked into a classroom and attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head.