Oxford High School shooting leaves four dead, six injured


Ryan Garza

Credit: @detroitfreepress on Instagram

Kendal Neel, Business Manager

On Nov. 30, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley opened fire on students and staff at Oxford High School in Oakland County, Michigan. While the assault only lasted mere minutes, authorities believe that Crumbley fired off at least 30 shots, claiming the lives of four students, injuring six other students and one teacher, before being detained by authorities. Since the event, numerous reports have been released detailing the many warning signs Crumbley exhibited in the days and hours leading up to the shooting.

At this time, The Pace Press would like to take a moment to acknowledge and honor the lives of those who were taken too soon from this world: Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14 and Justin Shilling, 17. Let their memory forever live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew them. Thoughts and prayers will never be enough to atone for the damage perpetrated by gun violence. 

In the aftermath of the shooting, Crumbley has been charged as an adult with 24 counts, including four counts of first-degree murder and terrorism. In combination with knowledge of their son’s troubling behavior and purchasing the 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol for him, Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, have also been charged with involuntary manslaughter after evidence found by authorities. Mr. and Mrs. Crumbly have hired their own high-profile attorneys, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, while their son will be represented by a court-appointed lawyer.

On Nov. 26, just four days before his son opened fire at Oxford High School, investigators found that Mr. Crumbley purchased the handgun on Black Friday as an early Christmas present for his son. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard confirmed Crumbley had three, 15-round magazines, including the 11 rounds pre-loaded in the weapon when authorities apprehended him. An investigation into the family’s social media accounts shows that both Ethan and Jennifer Crumbley posted photos of the new firearm and even documented their experience at a shooting range on the day the handgun was purchased. 

During the week of the shooting, members of the Oxford High School faculty noted Crumbley’s troubling behavior and immediately advised school officials. Despite one teacher’s disturbing report that the shooter was allegedly scrolling the internet for ammunition, Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley failed to seriously acknowledge the allegations. 

Text messages related to the incident later found between Jennifer and Ethan Crumbley on Nov. 29 corroborate this as Mrs. Crumbley writes, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn to not get caught.”

On the morning of the attack, another Oxford High School staff member reported an alarming illustration found on Crumbley’s desk that depicted a person being shot with the words “the thoughts won’t stop help me” and “blood everywhere” written in between startling sketches of a gun and bullets. Further investigation into the photo taken of the drawing also shows the words “my life is useless” and “the world is dead” were written as part of the drawing, which many believe is unwavering evidence that the attack was premeditated. 

The photo taken by the teacher prompted school officials to hold a meeting with Ethan and his parents just three hours before their son opened fire on campus. Allegedly, Crumbley had the gun in his backpack during the duration of the meeting with administrators. The Crumbley’s were advised to provide mental health counseling for their son within the next 48 hours in an effort to prevent any further unsettling behavior. Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley reportedly denied any need for their son to be taken out of school to receive mental help.

Despite the many warnings from faculty and staff, Ethan Crumbley returned to class with no disciplinary consequences and a handgun in his backpack. A surveillance video shows Ethan Crumbley entering a school bathroom with his backpack and exiting just minutes later with a gun in hand. At 12:51 p.m., chaos and terror broke out at Oxford High School as students barricaded themselves within the walls of their classrooms to avoid the onslaught.

Witnesses estimate that the attack lasted around five minutes before police arrived and were able to detain the shooter within two to three minutes. The 9-1-1 call center reported that they received over 100 calls at 12:52 PM, just after the initial shots were fired. 

In addition to the legal ramifications facing the Crumbley family, the couple has also been the subject of widespread public backlash for their lack of concern surrounding their son’s troubling behavior. University senior Kiara Ronaghan said, “It’s so upsetting to know that this could have been prevented. It’s the job of the parent to pay attention to their kid’s words and actions. They had every opportunity to take this seriously and they ignored it so as far as I’m concerned, they’re just as guilty.”

Following the attack, the authorities have recovered videos from Ethan Crumbley’s cell phone, as well as a journal found in his backpack that details his desire to shoot and kill students at his high school. 

While Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley are the main subjects of the public outcry, Oxford High School has also faced a considerable amount of criticism for not doing enough to prevent the shooting from happening. Many believe strict punishments should have been enacted for this type of behavior and there has already been a slew of lawsuits filed against the school for failing to stop the attack and the inevitable physical and mental trauma that ensued.

When asked about the resulting lawsuits, University senior Matt Cartwright said, “I do not understand how this kind of behavior was reported and there was no search of his backpack or locker. The school knowingly put their students in danger and nothing will ever make up for the lives lost due to their negligence.”

This tragedy has re-ignited the heated discussion surrounding gun violence and gun reform as statistics show a horrifying rise in the number of school shootings following the pandemic. University senior Yianni Nicolaides said, “As a student and as someone with younger siblings who are still in grade school, it terrifies me to think that their lives are at risk at school. School is supposed to be the safest place a kid can be and now that has been taken from them too.” 

Although the shooter was taken into custody and is expected to face a hefty sentence following his eventual trial, the pain and trauma he has inflicted upon the students and faculty of Oxford High School will never be forgotten.