Superintendent Requests Independent Review of Oxford High School Shooting
The actions of Oxford High School officials are being scrutinized after a student shot 11 people on campus November 30.
Oxford, Michigan – In response to last week’s mass shooting at Oxford High School where four students died and seven other people were injured, Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne asked that a third-party review be conducted of the events leading up to the tragedy.
In his letter to parents, Throne wrote: “I have personally asked for a third-party review of all the events of the past week because our community and our families deserve a full, transparent accounting of what occurred,” reports MLive.
Additionally, on Sunday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel offered to “conduct a full and comprehensive review,” reports NBC News.
On November 30, a 15-year-old sophomore used his father’s semi-automatic handgun to shoot 11 people on campus. Students Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, were killed.
The gun used in the shooting had been purchased only four days earlier on Black Friday, and the alleged gunman posted photos of the new firearm on social media. The gun was kept in an unlocked drawer in the suspect’s parents’ bedroom.
There also were warning signs that the suspected shooter might act out.
Only a day before the shooting, the suspect was caught by a teacher looking at photos of ammunition on his mobile phone. He then met with a counselor and another Oxford staff member and, according to Throne’s letter, “indicated he and his mother recently went to the shooting range and that shooting sports are a family hobby. Consistent with our school policies and procedures, the school attempted to make contact with the student’s mother to discuss the incident but did not initially hear back. The next day, his parents confirmed his account.”
According to prosecutors, the suspect’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley sent her son the following text message after his initial meeting with counselors: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” reports the Associated Press.
On the day of the shooting, a teacher saw the suspect drawing concerning images. According to AP, the suspect also wrote: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” “Blood everywhere,” “My life is useless,” and “The world is dead.” The teacher then reported their concerns to counselors and Oxford’s dean of students.
“The student was immediately removed from the classroom and brought to the guidance counselor’s office where he claimed the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and informed counselors that he planned to pursue video game design as a career,” said Throne’s letter. “The student’s parents were also called in. Because it was difficult to reach the parents, the student remained in the office for an hour and a half while counselors continued to observe, analyze and speak with the student. While waiting for his parents to arrive, the student verbalized his concern he would be missing homework assignments and requested his science homework, which he then worked on while in the office. At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm. In addition, despite media reports, whether or not the gun was in his backpack has not been confirmed by law enforcement to our knowledge nor by our investigation at this time.
“While both of his parents were present, counselors asked specific probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others. His answers, which were affirmed by his parents during the interview, led counselors to again conclude he did not intend on committing either self-harm or harm to others. The student’s parents never advised the school district that he had direct access to a firearm or that they had recently purchased a firearm for him.
“Counseling was recommended for him, and his parents were notified that they had 48 hours to seek counseling for their child or the school would contact Child Protective Services. When the parents were asked to take their son home for the day, they flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work.
“Given the fact that the child had no prior disciplinary infractions, the decision was made he would be returned to the classroom rather than sent home to an empty house. These incidents remained at the guidance counselor level and were never elevated to the principal or assistant principal’s office. While we understand this decision has caused anger, confusion and prompted understandable questioning, the counselors made a judgment based on their professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts we now know. Our counselors are deeply committed longstanding school members who have dedicated their lives to supporting students and addressing student mental health and behavioral issues.”
This weekend, the suspect’s parents were arrested as they were hiding in a Detroit warehouse. They are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Because they appeared to flee authorities rather than give themselves up, a $500,000 bond has been assigned for each parent. If they are released, they will be required to be monitored by GPS.
When CNN asked Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald if school staff might face charges related to the case, she said, “We haven’t ruled out charging anyone.”