MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (AP/WCMH) – Teachers and staff greeted students as they arrived Wednesday and uniformed police stood by as classes resumed in a southwest Ohio district two days after authorities say a 14-year-old boy shot students in a cafeteria.
Madison Local Schools officials said staff members joined students on their bus rides Wednesday morning and had a first-day-of-school style welcome at the campus just west of Middletown where some 1,600 students from pre-K through grade 12 attend. Police were on hand and crisis counselors were in the schools. School officials said teachers and other staff would lunch with students in the cafeteria where the shooting took place.
A brief statement on the district’s Facebook page said “the morning went very well,” and thanked everyone for supporting each other as the district moves forward.
But Wednesday, about 90 percent of students were back in class.
The 14-year-old shooting suspect, James Austin Hancock, remained in juvenile detention after denying charges including attempted murder through his attorney in a brief court hearing Tuesday. Butler County authorities were considering whether to seek to move his case into adult court.
Authorities said two students were shot, two others were hurt, and all were recovering from injuries not considered life-threatening.
One of those hurt was Brant Murray, 13, with bullet fragments in a leg. He told reporters Tuesday evening he was sitting at a cafeteria table with friends Cameron Smith, 15, and Cooper Caffrey, 14, who were both shot.
“All of a sudden the kid stood up and started shooting at us, at our table,” Murray told WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, adding he just tried to “stay calm and not die. It was just weird; couldn’t believe what was happening.”
He said he didn’t realize he was hurt until he and others ran from the cafeteria into the choir room, where he rolled up a pants leg. His parents said they’ll consult with a surgeon on what to do about the bullet fragments.
Murray was among hundreds of people at the Tuesday evening event for a walk-through school officials set up to help families and students feel comfortable about Wednesday’s return to classes.
Superintendent Curtis Philpot said school officials wanted to give students “as much normalcy as possible.”
He also said it’s too early to know what school security will look like down the line. For at least the next several days, extra deputies will be at Madison High. He has not ruled out the possibility of adding another resource officer or even metal detectors.
“We’re going at it hour-by-hour, day-by-day and thanks to other members of the education community we’ve been talking to other schools that have been through this,” he said.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said authorities believe they know a motive for the shootings, but aren’t discussing it while investigation continues.
Investigators have said Hancock told other students he had a gun and showed it to one just before the shooting. They said someone was going to tell administrators just before the shooting. They said Hancock got the .380-caliber handgun from a family member some time earlier and that he was carrying extra ammunition.