James Austin Hancock will undergo a psychological evaluation before sentencing

By Harriet Sokmensuer
Updated April 29, 2016 05:05 PM
Credit: Greg Lynch/The Journal-News via AP

James Austin Hancock, the 15-year-old boy who wounded four fellow students when he opened fire on classmates in his school’s cafeteria in February, pleaded guilty on Thursday to four counts of attempted murder, PEOPLE confirms.

Hancock also pleaded guilty to one count of inducing panic, a Butler County Juvenile Court official confirms. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped four felonious assault counts against Hancock.

Appearing in Butler County Juvenile Court on Thursday, Hancock was ordered to a pre-sentencing psychological evaluation by Judge Ronald Craft, officials confirm.

Hancock will receive his sentencing on June 6; Craft is expected to sentence Hancock to a juvenile facility until he is 21.

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In late February, Hancock, an eighth grader who was 14 at the time, took a relative’s gun to his Madison Township, Ohio, school and opened fire in the cafeteria. He shot two classmates while two others were injured from shrapnel. All four students survived and recovered from their injuries.

According to a Facebook post by the sheriff’s office, the suspect ran from the scene but was apprehended. Authorities were able to locate the weapon used, the statement says.

“At a press conference that day, Sheriff Richard K. Jones said, “When you see these things, you see them all over the country … you think they can’t happen to you. But they do.”

The Associated Press reports that Hancock’s lawyer, Charles Rittgers, said Hancock’s actions “came totally out of the blue” and that he didn’t have a history of being in trouble. The AP reports that Rittgers said Hancock was sorry for what he did and was relieved that nobody was injured more seriously.

“There really isn’t a good motive for what he did,” Rittgers told the Associated Press. “You’re dealing with the mind of a 14-year-old. And as most people know, especially at that age, they’re immature and they act sometimes impulsively.”

WVXU reports that prior to his plea, a grand jury determined that Hancock is a “Serious Youthful Offender,” meaning that he was not tried as an adult but that he would receive a mandatory “blended sentence.”

Prosecutor Mike Gmoser tells the station: “The Judge will send the juvenile to State supervision until the juvenile is twenty one years of age followed by a sentence as an adult for a period the Judge will determine.”