By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
A mass shooting at Oxford High School resulted in the deaths of four students and criminal charges against a student and his parents.
Eleven people — 10 students and a teacher — were shot when a student opened fire on classmates at OHS around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Three students — Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Julian, 14; and Madisyn Baldwin, 17 — died on the day of the attack while a fourth student — Justin Shilling, 17 — died of gunshot wounds the following morning. Of the seven wounded four have been discharged while three are in stable condition.
The suspected shooter — Ethan Crumbley, 15 — is currently held in the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac and is charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony. The suspect was arraigned on Dec. 1, will return to court on Dec. 13 for a probable cause hearing and is held without bond.
The suspect’s parents — Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley — are charged in the case, each with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Their arraignment was delayed from 4 p.m. on Dec. 3 to 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 4 due to the parents not showing up for the arraignment and prompting a nine-hour manhunt ending with the Detroit Police Department finding them in the city’s Islandview neighborhood around 1 a.m. They will be back in court on Dec. 14 for a probable cause hearing and have a combined cash bond of $1 million.
All of the accused plead not guilty to their charges.
The terrorism charges stem from the wide-ranging effects on the OHS student body and community, effects later made evident in the pandemonium following a medical emergency at Oxford’s Friday night vigil.
“When we sat down and talked about the charges that were applicable in this case, the children that I have just listed and those that were injured [are] the victims in the first-degree murder charges and the assault with attempt to murder [charges],” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said. “But what about the other children? What about the children who ran screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now who can’t eat and can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they can ever step foot back in that school? Those are victims too, and so are their families and so is the community, and the charge of terrorism reflects that.”
McDonald indicated over the week toward evidence of premeditation and parental involvement, with information released on Dec. 2 and 3 supporting this.
James purchased a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 handgun from ACME Shooting Goods in Oxford on Friday, Nov. 26. The suspect was at the store with James at the time; McDonald stated prosecutors are not looking into charges against ACME Shooting Goods. (ACME Shooting Goods is a Sherman Publications advertiser.)
Social media posts by the suspect and mother Jennifer indicate the gun was purchased as an early Christmas present for the suspect, who practiced using the weapon with Jennifer over the weekend. The handgun was stored in a bedroom drawer.
When school resumed on Monday, Nov. 29, a teacher noticed the suspect searching for ammunition on his phone in class and reported him to school officials. School personnel left a voicemail and emailed the Crumbley parents informing them of the search, neither responding to the school. Jennifer texted the suspect later that day, telling him “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
On the morning of the shooting, a teacher discovered the suspect in possession of a note depicting someone being shot, various phrases including “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” and a laughing emoji. The suspect tarnished the note before he was brought into a meeting between school officials and his parents, who were ordered to get him into counseling within 48 hours and requested they take him home. The parents refused to remove him from school and he was let back into class. The suspect was not asked by either party about the handgun and his bag was not inspected.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office reports the shooting began around 12:55 p.m. and lasted about five minutes; deputies found the handgun and spare ammunition on him. As first responders from around metro Detroit raced into Oxford, Jennifer texted the suspect “Ethan, don’t do it” at 1:22 p.m. and James reported the handgun missing at 1:37 p.m.
OCS Superintendent Tim Thorne released a video on Dec. 2 stating “no discipline was warranted” and that no record for the student existed before Nov. 30. Thorne announced his retirement in October and is expected to vacate the position in early 2022.