HAMILTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The 15-year-old who pleaded guilty to firing shots inside a Butler County school will spend the next six years behind bars.
Austin Hancock was sentenced to state juvenile detention for 6 years for shooting two 14-year-old students and injuring two others in the cafeteria of Madison Jr./Sr. High School back on February 29.
It was an emotional courtroom on Monday when Butler County Juvenile Judge Ronald Craft began the sentencing for Hancock.
Before the judge’s decision was made, one of the four shooting victims spoke directly to the shooter he regarded as a close friend.
“I want you to know that I forgive you,” said Cooper Caffrey. “People think that’s crazy and keep telling me I should be mad and I have a right to be mad, but I’m not.”
Another statement was ready from a victim’s advocate from another person injured in the shooting.
After hearing from his victims, Hancock addressed them briefly by saying he was not targeting them.
The sentencing also offered another look into the shooter’s life.
Hancock’s mother, Kristi Blevins, spoke to the judge and media about her son’s trouble childhood growing up with a young mother, a split family, and medications.
“I don’t know why Austin chose that as his out, like that as his decision,” said Blevins. “But there are factors that have really played in to this situation that everyone is not aware of. I think Austin just snapped that day.”
While handing down his sentence, Judge Craft made mention of the difficulty to punish Hancock for his actions. But he said it had to be done to help stop a growing problem of school shootings across the country.
“It’s the bedrock of our country,” said Craft alluding to keeping schools safe. “It’s our kids.”
As part of the six-year sentence with the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Hancock is also forbidden from making contact with his victims or the school district.
Restitution was also requested in the amount of $1,810.
Hancock was also tried as an adult. The judge chose to stay those adult charges as long as Hancock does not get into trouble during his six-year prison sentence.