Suspect to face murder charges

December 1, 2021
Suspect to face murder charges
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OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The 15-year-old student accused of opening fire on his classmates at a suburban Michigan high school, killing 4 and injuring 7 others on Tuesday, will face a slew of criminal counts including charges of first degree murder and terrorism, Oakland County’s top prosecutor announced Wednesday. 

Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced the charges and identified the teen as Oxford High School sophomore Ethan Crumbley, noting he would be charged as an adult. He will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon and could face life in prison. 

The suspect is accused of opening fire at the school in Oxford Township, a suburb about 35 miles north of Detroit, firing what sheriff’s deputies now believe to be 30 bullets and attempting to breach classroom doors.

He will face 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 the commission of a felony, McDonald said.

Authorities say the teen used a handgun purchased by his father on Black Friday, just days before the attack. McDonald said her office was considering criminal charges against the suspect’s parents. She said responsible gun ownership was crucial to helping stop such tragedies and “those who do not do that should be — and will be — held accountable.” 

McDonald went through the list of victims, Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17, noting she is a parent and would “treat this case like these are my own children.” 

She said there was a “mountain of digital evidence,” including videos and social media posts that show the attack was planned “well before” Tuesday.

Authorities have said the suspect came to the school Tuesday with a plan. 

“He came out with the intent to kill people. He was shooting people at close range, oftentimes toward the head or chest,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said on CNN early Wednesday. “It’s chilling. It’s just absolutely cold-hearted murderous.”

Bouchard said the suspect was arrested at the scene roughly 45 minutes northwest of Detroit. The sheriff’s office identified the victims as Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.

Students described a chaotic scene as a voice came over the intercom to announce an active shooter. Some didn’t know whether it was a drill. Teachers rushed to lock and barricade doors and cover windows. Students were in tears and texted loved ones.

‘Open the door’:Chilling video shows Michigan students escape through window during shooting

Abbey Hodder, 15, a sophomore, was in chemistry class when she thought she heard glass breaking.

“My teacher kind of ran out and was scrambling,” she said, describing how she and her classmates followed their active shooter training. “The next thing I knew I saw he was pushing tables. It’s part of school protocol to barricade, so we all knew, barricade, barricade down. And we all started pushing tables.”

Suspect’s father bought gun days earlier; possible warning signs investigated 

Bouchard said that the suspect’s father bought the gun Friday and that the teen appeared to post images of the gun online days before the shooting.

Undersheriff Michael McCabe acknowledged there were rumors about warning signs and said that they were being investigated. At least one parent told The Associated Press that her son was not in school over fears something could happen.

“He just said that ‘Ma, I don’t feel comfortable. None of the kids that we go to school with are going today,'” Robin Redding, who has a son in 12th grade, told the news agency. 

America’s gun violence ‘epidemic’:Oxford High in Michigan is 28th school shooting of 2021

The suspect, a sophomore from the Village of Oxford whom authorities have not identified, was in class during the day, McCabe said. The weapon was a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol. Bouchard said the teen was arrested with seven rounds still in a magazine and one in the chamber.

The suspect invoked his right not to speak to investigators and requested a lawyer. He was being held at the county’s juvenile detention facility and was under suicide watch, County Executive David Coulter said Tuesday night. 

Who was killed, injured in the Oxford shooting?

Tate Myre died in a patrol car as a deputy rushed him to a hospital, Bouchard said. Justin Shilling died Wednesday at a local hospital.

Seven people were injured, including a teacher. Bouchard said most of the remaining gunshot victims were stable but some remained in critical condition. Police had said a 14-year-old girl was placed on a ventilator after surgery and the 47-year-old teacher was discharged after being treated.

A post on the Twitter page for Oxford High School’s football team said Tate had been a varsity football player since his first year and was an honor student. “Tate was a great young man with a bright future and beloved by all. You will be missed, Tate,” the tweet read.

“He was a tremendous football player with the brightest of futures and was an even better young man off the field as he was on it,” another tweet read.

The school’s women’s basketball team tweeted that Hana St. Juliana was a dedicated member of the program. “We will never forget your kind heart, silly personality, and passion for the game. … This season we play for you Hana,” the post read.

Madisyn Baldwin’s grandmother described the 17-year-old as a talented artist and told WDIV-TV she already had received multiple college acceptances. Madisyn was patient and “so kind,” her grandmother told the TV station.

More from Oxford community:Town organizes vigils, prays for peace in wake of Michigan high school shooting

How the shooting at Oxford High School unfolded

At 12:51 p.m. Tuesday, police dispatchers received a 911 call for an active shooter at Oxford High School. More than 100 calls ultimately came in. Within about five minutes of the initial call, Oakland County sheriff’s deputies had arrested the suspect, McCabe said. 

Surveillance video from the school showed the suspect coming out of a bathroom with a pistol, Bouchard said.

McCabe said the school did “everything right” and had everyone take shelter. Barricaded doors and first responders’ quick action “saved lives,” Bouchard said.

Abbey said she and her classmates lined up along a wall and grabbed something to throw, also part of their active shooting training. But not long after, her teacher told them to jump out a window and run.

A video shared widely on social media from inside a classroom showed students hiding as they heard a knock on the door. A voice from outside the classroom said: “Sheriff’s office. It’s safe to come out.” Inside, a person replied, “We’re not willing to take that risk right now.” 

“It’s OK,” the voice outside insisted. “Open the door. It’s all right, bro.” When students heard the person outside use the word “bro,” pandemonium erupted. Someone called it a “red flag” because a sheriff’s deputy would be unlikely to use the word “bro.” The students escaped through a window, and a sheriff’s deputy greeted them as they entered another door across a courtyard.

Bouchard didn’t confirm the person in the video trying to enter the room was in fact the shooter but said, “A ruse like this wouldn’t have surprised me, given the way he was acting.”

Ashley Bales, a senior, didn’t realize the intercom call was real until she got a text from her sister. She and her classmates ran outside and down a slippery hill toward a Meijer grocery store during the shooting. She was struck in the face in the crush of people but was OK.

“It was hard for me because my sister was still in school,” she said.

Brandi Lawrey said she was on the phone with her daughter, Makenzie, 17, as she ran from the building while police officers directed her out. Lawrey said Makenzie’s class barricaded their door with tables and chairs, then squeezed into a far corner before they left the building.

“All the words in her text and the fear in her voice kept filtering through my mind,” Brandi Lawrey said Wednesday morning. “Makenzie is devastated and heartbroken. She’s scared.”

Schools superintendent Tim Throne said Oxford High doesn’t have metal detectors. Authorities knew how the student brought in the weapon, McCabe added, but he did not elaborate.

McCabe said the district and superintendent work hard to keep the school’s 1,800 students safe, highlighting the fact that a deputy is assigned to the school and was involved in the suspect’s arrest.

How many school shootings have taken place this year?

There have been 28 school shootings this year, according to Education Week, which tracks shootings at schools in which there are any firearm-related injuries or deaths.

Of those, 20 have occurred since August, when many students returned to in-person learning for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 10 recorded shootings in 2020.

In addition, the incident is the 651st in 2021 in which at least four people were shot, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Contributing: Khalil AlHajal, Elisha Anderson, Liz Shepard, David Jesse, Kristen Jordan Shamus and Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press; Michael Braun, Fort Myers News-Press; The Associated Press



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