Oxford Michigan Active Shooter, What Went Wrong?

A male suspect is in custody after allegedly fatally shooting four people and injuring seven others at Oxford High School Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

The four individuals who died have been identified as Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, reports USA Today. The others who were injured, including a 47-year-old teacher, were all taken to local hospitals. 

The suspect has been identified as 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at the school. He was charged as an adult with terrorism, murder, and other counts CNN reported.

Authorities say the suspect used his father’s semi-automatic handgun that he had just purchased four days before the shooting. The teen appeared to post images of the gun online days before the shooting, according to Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

Undersheriff Michael McCabe said they are investigating rumors that there were warning signs, according to USA Today. The Detroit Free Press is also reporting that some students and parents had heard rumors before Tuesday that there would be an incident on campus.

CNN reported that two teachers had separately reported concerning behavior by the suspect and that the school had held two meetings with him, including one with his parents shortly before the mass shooting.

Police said they believe at least 12 shots were fired, and surveillance video showed the suspect coming out of a bathroom with the gun.

Students told WXYZ that during the attack they heard “ALICE lockdown” repeatedly over the campus public address system. ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.”

After the attack, students were evacuated from the campus to a nearby parking lot where they were reunited with their families, reports Detroit News. McCabe praised the school for doing “everything right.”

About the Shooter

The Michigan high school shooting suspect is a bullied 15-year-old sophomore who now faces multiple first-degree murder and terrorism charges in the deadly attack. 

Ethan Crumbley, 15, is charged with killing four students and injuring seven others when he allegedly opened fire at Oxford High School, about 40 miles north of Detroit, on 11/30/21.

Officials at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said the teen shot a video the night before that spoke about killing students — and made similar threats in a journal found in his backpack. 

His father purchased the 9mm Sig Sauer used in the shooting just four days earlier on Black Friday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

Crumbley had been charged as an adult with murder, terrorism, assault, and weapons possession charges.

Crumbley had posted photos of the gun, and him firing it, in the lead-up to the school shooting, the sheriff added.

Investigators said they are still trying to determine a motive for the deadly shooting because the suspect isn’t speaking to them. However, some classmates have said Crumbley was bullied, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Investigators say Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer, advised their son not to speak to authorities following his arrest. Police must get permission from a juvenile’s parents or guardian in order to speak with them, Undersheriff Mike McCabe said.

Police raided the family’s home, which is about two miles from the school, and seized several long guns from the house, the Daily Mail reported.

Meanwhile, investigators are doing a “deep dive” on Crumbley’s social media accounts to try to determine a motive or see if there were any red flags.

Authorities said late Tuesday they were made aware of social media posts saying there had been threats of a shooting at Oxford, but the sheriff said they didn’t know about the rumors until after the attack.  “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” a since-deleted Instagram account bearing Crumbley’s name read, according to Fox 2 Detroit. “See you tomorrow, Oxford.”

The sheriff said Crumbley had no previous run-ins with his department and he wasn’t aware of any disciplinary history at school ahead of the shooting.

Authorities swarmed his family home hours after the shooting and were spotted hauling away evidence, including what appeared to be long guns, Fox 2 footage showed.

Crumbley was taken into custody in the school hallway just minutes after deputies arrived around lunchtime.  The teen put his hands up as deputies approached him, the sheriff said, adding that his gun was found to have additional rounds in it.

Events Leading Up to the Shooting

Days after the shooting, the district's superintendent has requested an independent investigation into the incident -- the deadliest school shooting at a US K-12 campus since May 2018.

His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were also each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with their son's alleged actions.  Prosecutors have said James Crumbley bought the gun his son allegedly used in the shooting -- a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semiautomatic pistol -- four days prior, on Black Friday.  An Oakland County judge set a bond for James and Jennifer Crumbley at $500,000 each.  The parents have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

On Saturday, Tim Throne, who heads the Oxford Community Schools district, detailed in a letter the school's account of several key events leading up to the shooting.
The Day Before the Shooting

On Monday, a teacher saw the suspect looking at photos of ammunition on his cell phone during class, which prompted a meeting with a counselor and another staff member. During that discussion, the student told them that he and his mother had recently gone to a shooting range and that "shooting sports are a family hobby."   The school tried to reach the student's mother that day but didn't hear back until the following day when his parents confirmed the student's story.  After school officials reached out to Jennifer Crumbley regarding her son searching the web for ammunition, she texted him saying, "LOL I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught," prosecutors have said.

The Morning of the Shooting

The day of the shooting -- a teacher alerted school counselors and the Dean of students to "concerning drawings and written statements" that the student had created, according to the letter. He was "immediately removed from the classroom" and taken to a guidance counselor's office.  The student told a school counselor that "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." 

Following that discussion, the student stayed in the office for an hour and a half as school staff called his parents and waited for them to arrive at the school. While waiting the student said he was concerned about missing his 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," Throne said. 

Upon the parents' arrival, the school counselors asked the student "specific probing questions" about his potential for self-harm or harm toward others, Throne said. The answers he provided "led counselors to again conclude he did not intend on committing either self-harm or harm to others." 

School counselors told the parents they must seek counseling for their son within 48 hours, or otherwise, the school would contact Child Protective Services, Throne wrote.  When asked to take their child home for the rest of the day, Throne said the student's parents "flatly refused," leaving their son behind to "return to work." And because the student had no prior disciplinary actions on his record, school counselors decided to allow him to return to his class, rather than send him to what they thought would be an empty home, Throne explained.

The Shooting

Karen McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor who is leading the case, has said Crumbly allegedly had the gun used in the shooting in his backpack during the meeting with school officials and his parents.

The alleged shooter started firing a gun "during passing time between classes when hundreds of students were in the hallway transitioning from one classroom to the other" on Tuesday, Throne said.  "Before the shooter was able to walk a short distance to enter the main hallway, students and staff had already entered classrooms, locked doors, erected makeshift barricades, and locked down or fled according to their training," Throne explained. "The suspect was not able to gain access to a single classroom."

An initial review of videos of the shooting shows that "staff and students' response to the shooter were efficient, exemplary and definitely prevented further deaths and injuries," Throne said.

School Officials Being Scrutinized

In response to the shooting, 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.” 

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.”

The first part of the investigation would be looking into if any policies or protocols were not followed and would be a step further than the investigation conducted by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department.

If given the opportunity to conduct the investigation, the AG said it will allow her team to make recommendations for any legislative changes that can prevent this type of situation in the future.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the investigation's findings will determine whether school officials will be charged in the attack.

Michigan Suspended School Security Funding

The deadly shooting at Oxford High School brings to light a key state program that has existed for years to help schools improve their security. However, the state of Michigan hasn’t funded that program for the past two years.

Michigan officials had $25 million in grants to hand out to improve security in school buildings in 2018, when the state's school safety grant program was significantly bolstered after a shooter killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.  Schools and education agencies applied for $69 million in improvements, nearly three times the funds available. Another $25 million went to schools in 2019.

But in 2020, the Legislature suspended that grant program because of the pandemic.

More money for security improvements will be available to schools in 2022 after the two-year hiatus — it'll likely be used to address safety concerns again at the forefront of the minds of parents and caregivers.

Violence the New Normal

There have been 48 shootings this year on K-12 campuses, 32 of them since August 1, 2021.  

In a two-year period, from school years 2015-2016 to 2017-2018, attacks with weapons jumped 97 percent, according to the most recent data available. At the same time, hate crimes increased 81 percent and sexual assaults rose 17 percent.  Things have only gotten worse since the pandemic.

Much of the attention around the return to school after months of remote learning has focused on academic losses, but educators also feared emotional damage and behavioral unrest as students who have seen their lives upended by the pandemic adjust to being in school buildings again. Those fears now appear to be materializing, in big ways and small. The National Association of School Resource Officers reports that from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1 this year, there were 97 reported gun-related incidents in schools. During the same span in 2019, there were 29.

There is no national data on less-serious instances of violence in schools, but teachers and school administrators across the country say they are seeing a rise in everything from minor misbehaviors to fighting in the hallways.

More worrisome for students, experts say, is the social isolation wrought by the pandemic. Isolation is among the risk factors for students who commit violent acts in schools, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a May bulletin. The agency noted that the pandemic also denied many students access to mental health professionals and put financial strains on many families.  Teachers and even some students say the level of disturbance this fall has gone far beyond years past. In some cases, students are unaccustomed to following the rules that govern a school building. They don’t grasp the expectations for their ages, teachers say, because the last time some were in school was two grades ago.

How Can We Prevent Violence in Schools?

All students have the right to learn in a safe school environment. The good news is school violence can be prevented. Many factors contribute to school violence. Preventing school violence requires addressing the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence. Research shows that prevention efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and even students can reduce violence and improve the school environment.

The CDC developed technical packages to help communities and states prioritize prevention strategies based on the best available evidence. The strategies and approaches in the technical packages are intended to shape individual behaviors as well as the relationship, family, school, community, and societal factors that influence risk and protective factors for violence. They are meant to work together and to be used in combination in a multi-level, multi-sector effort to prevent violence.

How ASR Can Help When Violence Strikes

ASR Alert Systems is a patented state-of-the-art critical incident response technology specializing in the field of alert notifications to Law Enforcement and First Responders in the event of an active shooter or other crisis. Our technology can be customized to any industry, building, or event. We deliver customer-specific technology unmatched by anyone.  We are the only solution on the market today that goes DIRECT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT (we hold the patent on this technology).  All other commercially available solutions utilize third-party call centers.  The Patented ASR First Responder Dispatch Console is a stand-alone wireless (cellular) console that resides inside the dispatch centers or RTCC’s and does not require a computer or additional hardware.  Our patented method works great as a permanent solution or we can also integrate directly with police computer-assisted dispatch systems.  The difference is our comprehensive information exchange DIRECT WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT that will be responding to a critical event at your facility.

ASR is wholly dedicated to saving time to save lives and we approach our critical incident response technology from the perspective of those responding to crisis events. ASR offers the best critical incident response technology solution in the industry. Our reliable and redundant methods of alerting persons who are in danger, as well as providing the fastest notification to law enforcement by communicating directly with police dispatch are not matched. Our patented critical incident response technology uses hard-mounted buttons, mobile pendants, and a mobile phone application to DIRECTLY communicate with first responders in the area to significantly decrease response times to an active threat or crisis situation.  Communicating DIRECTLY with first responders is what makes ASR different from every other system on the market, we hold the patent on this technology.

Critical Incident Information Reported Includes:

  • Type of Emergency That is Being Reported
  • Name and Address of the Location That is Under Attack
  • Precise Location Information - Exactly Where Within the Facility the System was Activated

At ASR, we understand the complexities of active shooter and other crisis events.  Our staff is trained in all facets of these events and we approach all of our systems from a vulnerability assessment perspective.  We know that communicating accurate information to first responders is key to reducing confusion and is critical for everyone involved.   Saving time DOES save lives.  Saving lives can reduce risk.  Reducing risk can reduce liability.

Let us help your organization with our patented technology today by requesting a free virtual demonstration.

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