Three recent Butler County incidents involving what law enforcement have called meetings set up over social media between teenagers that resulted in shootings underline a growing concern, officials said.
The most recent incident, the shooting death of a Ross High School student on Tuesday, happened after the victim arranged to meet the alleged shooter to trade guns, said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.
Austin Hensley, 18, was shot after a robbery attempt at the meet-up went bad, officials said. Two teens are charged, one for the shooting and another for stealing his father’s gun.
That shooting followed two other recent incidents that shared similar circumstances, according to police.
A 16-year-old boy was in the court of Butler County Juvenile Judge Ronald Craft on Friday on charges of felonious assault and aggravated robbery for allegedly shooting a teen during a robbery in the parking lot of the Fairfield Twp. Walmart last month.
Stephan Cotter, 22, of Loveland, was shot and killed on Dec. 8 in the 2200 block of Pearl Street in Middletown, allegedly after 16-year-old Paul Dillon Craft set up a drug deal for the sale of Xanax and marijuana but instead shot Cotter during an altercation caused by a robbery attempt, according to police.
“(We have) kids that grow up and become teenagers and they become wannabes and they get on their Facebook pages, their Twitter accounts and they think they are real tough and they think they are gangsters and they have guns and they have drugs. This is why we are here today,” Jones said during a Wednesday news conference following Hensley’s death in Ross Twp.
“People don’t accidentally get shot very often, but when you have people who are inexperienced, but they think they are tough and they have guns and they bring guns and they think they are gangsters, usually somebody dies.”