School resource officer reflects before anniversary of Madison HS shooting

MIDDLETOWN, OH (FOX19) - News of Wednesday's deadly school shooting in Florida is bringing up painful memories for those impacted by a shooting in Middletown nearly two years ago. But at Madison High School's resource officer believes it's also a reminder of hope and strength.

February 29, 2016 at Madison High School was horrific, tense, and terrifying. James Austin Hancock brought a gun into the building that day. Police said he fired off shots in the cafeteria, ultimately injuring four people.

"It was a tough day. The anniversary is coming up," said the resource officer and deputy sheriff Kent Hall.

Hall made the first call for help.

"No one would ever dream or imagine that it would happen at our school, and that's what they're saying today," Hall said.

Thankfully, the four Madison students are now survivors.

"Things are somewhat back to normal at the school. School administration took a tougher stance on school safety," Hall said.

The shooting in Florida has a death toll already in the double digits. For Hall, hearing about it is a haunting reminder of what they faced.

"Watching the news today, you hear the 'pop pop pop' of the gunfire going on, the same thing that was going on the day of our shooting," Hall said.

At the same time, Hall said it brings the community's strength and hope alive.

"We had neighboring school districts coming and helping," Hall said. "We had a lot of community groups coming and helping."

Hall wants the families hurting and grieving down south to know that based on his experiences, there is power in support, there is love in leaning on each other, and compassion and care do exist.

"This was a major catastrophic deal for that school, and it's going to take time. It's going to take healing," Hall said. "It's going to take people helping."

Hall said the Butler County Sheriff's Office and Madison district administrators have made changes to improve safety at Madison, including adding a second school resource officer. Hall and the Madison superintendent are teaming up to give an active shooter presentation in Columbus in April.

Officers, school staff members, and other officials from across Ohio are welcome to attend. Hall said they will be going over what happened at Madison and sharing what they learned from the incident. You can learn more about the event here.

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