Teen pleads guilty to attempted murder in cafeteria shooting

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting students in a school cafeteria pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of attempted murder and one count of inducing panic.

In exchange, Butler County’s prosecutor agreed to drop four felonious assault charges against James Austin Hancock.

Hancock was charged in the Feb. 29 shooting at Madison Local Schools near Middletown, north of Cincinnati. Authorities said Hancock, who was 14 at the time, took a relative’s loaded gun to school and opened fire in a cafeteria, hitting two students. Two other students were injured either by shrapnel or while running away. Authorities did not give a motive.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles charged with crimes, but Hancock’s name was widely reported.

Defense attorney Charles Rittgers said Hancock’s family was “in shock” after the shooting because the teen did not have a history of violence or of causing trouble.

Hancock was indicted in March as a juvenile under a serious youthful offender classification on charges of attempted murder, felonious assault and inducing panic. His attorney entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf.

Gmoser said the grand jury had the option of indicting Hancock as an adult but chose to charge him under the juvenile classification.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 6.

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