Ohio school shooting suspect denies charges in juvenile court

Madison High School Shooting Suspect in Court
Madison High School Shooting Suspect in Court

(Reuters) - The 14-year-old suspect in a shooting at a southwestern Ohio high school that left four students wounded denied the charges against him on Tuesday, according to a juvenile court official.

James Austin Hancock appeared in court with a lawyer for an arraignment hearing and entered a "not true" plea, equivalent to a not guilty plea, to two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count each of inducing panic and making terroristic threats, Butler County Juvenile Justice Center Director Rob Clevenger said.

Hancock was ordered to return to a juvenile detention center, where he has been held since Monday, when he was arrested after the incident in Middletown, about 38 miles (61 km) north of Cincinnati, officials said. A pretrial hearing was set for April 5.

A lawyer for Hancock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said Hancock entered the cafeteria at Madison Jr/Sr High School at about 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT) on Monday and began shooting.

Hancock, who was a student at the school, then threw the gun away and ran but was later caught, officials said. They declined to release a motive for the shooting.

The weapon appeared to be a .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun, Jones said.

Two students were shot and taken to the hospital, school district and sheriff's officials said. The victims - Cameron Smith, 15, and Cooper Caffery, 14 - were in stable condition, Jones had said.

"Both boys who were hospitalized are doing very well and are in very high spirits," the school district said on Facebook on Monday night.

Brant Murray, 15, and Katherine Doucette, 14, suffered minor injuries, possibly from shrapnel, law enforcement officials said.

The school district will be closed on Tuesday. School buildings will be open on Tuesday night, however, to offer parents and students reassurance ahead of a planned reopening on Wednesday, when additional staff members and crisis counselors will be on hand. (Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Originally published