HAMILTON, Ohio – Attorney Blake R. Maislin of Cincinnati has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three students and their parents, suing the family of the then 14-year-old who opened fire in an Ohio school cafeteria. James Austin Hancock, now 15, pledged guilty to attempted murder and other charges and was last month sentenced to a juvenile facility until he turns 21. The lawsuit claims that the February shooting at Madison Local Schools was led by the negligence and recklessness of the boy’s family.

The lawsuit was filed June 15, just days after the teenager was sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services. Hancock pulled a gun out of his lunch box and started shooting at the school cafeteria. No hearing dates have been set for the case, which has been assigned to Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster, and a jury trial is requested, as reported by the Dayton Daily News.

A 14-year-old boy is accused of shooting two classmates, and injuring two others in the school cafeteria.
A 14-year-old boy is accused of shooting two classmates, and injuring two others in the school cafeteria. Credit: ABC13 WLOS

Cameron Smith was shot, and Brant Murray was wounded by shrapnel. Brant’s sister, Genna, claimed the shooting caused her emotional distress. Maislin’s lawsuit alleges that Hancock’s family openly expressed “a total disregard for the life and safety of the public,” according to a report by the Omaha World-Herald.

The family of the affected students is seeking a jury trial and asks for more than $350,000 from Hancock’s parents and grandparents, whose homeowner’s insurance might cover at least part of the suit.

Students Cooper Caffrey and Katherine Douchette were injured in the shooting, but they are not involved in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Hancock’s parents, James T. and Sara Hancock, was brought by Ginger Weaver, mother of Genna and Brant, and Melody Hollinsworth, legal custodian of Smith. They are also suing because they allege Hancock’s family lost the “love (and) affection, solace and services of their minors,” the Dayton Daily News reported.

The role Hancock’s grandparents might have played in the shooting

Hancock’s grandparents, Brian and Donna Hancock, are mentioned in the lawsuit, as they were the owners of the weapon the teenager used in the shooting. The document alleges that they allowed the boy to obtain the handgun. In fact, investigators have said the teenager got the gun from his grandparent’s home, and weapons were found after the incident at Hancock’s Brown’s Run Road residence. However, investigators said the guns were locked up.

Charlie Rittgers, who represented Hancock’s attorney in his criminal case, firmly believes the parents and grandparents of the shooter have nothing to be held responsible for, as he told The Cincinnati Enquirer. It has not been confirmed whether he will be the attorney for the family in the civil case.

“I found many factual inaccuracies (in the lawsuit) which surprised me based on the fact that the investigative file from the sheriff’s office has been distributed in the public domain,” Rittgers said, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Source: Dayton Daily News