Madison school shooter's motive released

New documents released on school shooting (VIDEO)
James Austin Hancock in court (FOX19 NOW file)
James Austin Hancock in court (FOX19 NOW file)

BUTLER COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - The motive in a Madison Township school shooting was released Friday, along with evidence that two students knew Austin Hancock had brought a firearm to school that day.

Multiple agencies were called to Madison Junior/Senior High School February 29 for an active shooter. Austin Hancock, 15, had been sitting in the cafeteria lunch when he opened fire, hurting four students. Hancock emptied the handgun and then fled the school, but was later tracked down by a police canine in a nearby field.

He was recently sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until he's 21 for attempted murder.

According to police reports, two students, who were not identified, had knowledge of Hancock possessing the handgun and never told school staff. One of those students had seen the gun four times between 7:30 a.m. and 11:17 a.m.

Investigators said Hancock confessed to bringing a Sig Sauer P238 handgun to school during an initial interview. He said he showed two students the handgun in the bathroom in the cafeteria fifteen to twenty minutes before the shooting.

Hancock said he saw one of those students talking to Kylie Russell, a victim, and believed he was telling her about the gun. Russell then left the cafeteria.

Hancock believed she was going to tell someone and that caused him to start shooting.

[SLIDESHOW: Investigators release Madison school shooting crime scene photos]

Officials said Hancock stated that he took the gun from his Grandma Joyce's house the night before. He told investigators he made the decision to shoot when he picked up the gun and put it into his backpack that morning.

The reason he gave to police for shooting was his "home life."

"His mom doesn't watch any of his sporting events and his dad was on his case for grades and he has a lot of chores," stated police records. "Hancock further stated that he was always grounded (at least seven months out of the year)."

Investigators said when Hancock saw Russell get up he know that he didn't want to go home and started shooting. He told police he never had a specific target in mind, but just fired at a group of kids.

Investigators released a timeline of events that occurred right up to the shooting:

  • 7:32 - Two students entered the bathroom with Hancock, who then shows them the gun.
  • 10:57 - Those two students meet Hancock at his locker and see Hancock move the gun from his backpack to a gray lunchbox.
  • 10:58 - The three of them walked into the lunchroom and went directly into the bathroom. Hancock loads the gun and it jams.  The other two students leave the bathroom shortly after.
  • 10:59 - One of those students leaves the bathroom and walks to a classroom and tells Russell that Hancock has a gun.
  • 11:03 - The other student went back to the table where Hancock is sitting.
  • 11:11 - While in the restroom, Hancock finished loading the gun, charges it and puts the gun's safety on.
  • 11:15 - Student leaves classroom with Russell and goes to the detention table in the lunchroom.
  • 11:16 - Hancock displays the gun at the table, where two students could see it and backs away from the table.
  • 11:17 - Hancock stands up shooting and then runs outside 7 seconds later.

Parents of students who were injured in shooting have filed a lawsuit against Hancock and his family.

The defendants say Hancock's mother and father's "negligence, recklessness and wanton breach of duty, which included, but is not limited to the entrustment of a firearm," resulted in the victims' injuries.

Two other Hancock relatives are named in the suit, but their exact relationship is unknown. The suit claims those family members "had a duty to secure the firearm" James Austin Hancock used in the shooting.

The suit names seven counts and seeks $25,000 for each victim.

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