School Resource Officer Pursued Suspect in Ohio School Shooting

Officer Kent Hall was on the scene seconds after shots were fired and pursued the suspect until he was arrested.

The actions of a school resource officer are being praised as more details emerge from the Feb. 29 school shooting that injured four students in Ohio.

Officer Kent Hall, 50, had just left the cafeteria of Madison Jr./Sr. High School when he heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

“It was very distinct. I knew right away what it was when I heard it, and then reaction set in,” says Hall, a retired Butler County Sheriff’s deputy who’s lived in Madison his whole life.

Hall drew his weapon and raced back to the cafeteria, preparing for a shootout and calling for backup, according to

Hall saw several students on the ground, either hiding or wounded, and noticed a 14-year-old sprinting out of the school toward the parking lot. He realized he had a decision to make. “Do I take care of the kids, or do I go after the suspect?” Hall remembers thinking.

Hall went after the suspect, who police have since identified as student Austin Hancock.

Rather than continue the pursuit on foot, however, Hall ran to his car to make up ground. “[The suspect] was on a dead sprint, so chances of me catching up to him at my age with all this equipment… So my best option was to get in the car and head him off,” Hall explained at a press conference March 9.

Hall, who graduated from the high school in 1984 and knows the area well, drove to a field the suspect was running in the direction of, where other police were already present.

Thankfully, the suspect had thrown down his weapon, a .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun, before officers surrounded him with police dogs. The student put his hands up and surrendered without incident.

“We had best case scenario, I am happy how the incident panned out,” Hall says of the arrest. “We had a school shooting and nobody died.”

In total, at least ten sheriff’s cruisers and two medical helicopters arrived at the scene. School officials had initiated a lockdown through their intercom immediately after shots were fired.

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The four victims, two students who’d been shot and two who’d been injured from shrapnel, were helped by school staff initially and then by first responders. Hall’s wife, an emergency medical technician, was one of the responders who cared for the injured students.

Hall says the first responders are the ones who deserve the credit, though Superintendent Curtis Philpot has praised Hall as a hero.

Since the arrest, police have charged Hancock with several felonies and searched his home. Authorities seized BB guns, knives and electronics from his house.

The school was closed the day after the shooting, but classes resumed the following day. When students filed into the building that morning they saw a familiar face, as Hall was there to greet them all with a smile.

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About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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