Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Justin Shilling, 17—four students who died unexpectedly on a regular day at school, all because of one classmate’s actions.
On Nov. 30, 2021, the shooting occurred at Oxford High School in Township, Michigan. According to The New York Times, 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley shot 11 people within five minutes, killing four and critically injuring the remaining seven, including a teacher.
In court the next day, Crumbley was charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death, as well as four counts of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors also charged the parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, who had claimed the handgun to be their son’s early Christmas present prior to the shooting. They were both charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Buildup to the incident started when one of Crumbley’s teachers caught him browsing the internet for ammunition, watching violent videos of past shootings and drawing disturbing images on a test review page in class. She sent him to administration, who then returned Crumbley to class because his parents refused to take him home.
Police now argue that Crumbley’s backpack, which was never searched, contained the handgun used in the attack that happened the next day.
“All they had to do was tell the school that that they had recently purchased a gun for their son, and asked him where the gun was, open his backpack or just take it home,” Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in a court filing.
Authorities report that after Ms. Crumbley heard this concerning news from the principal, she texted her son a chilling message: “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
While a convicted minor’s parents do not usually receive criminal consequences, McDonald believed that these parents were too involved not to be charged themselves. They seemed to encourage his dangerous behavior with weapons.
“I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable, and also send the message that gun owners have a responsibility,” McDonald said at a press conference according to Insider. “When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences.”
On Thursday, Dec. 23, the prosecutor disclosed that the parents “knew that their son was depressed and heading down a dangerous and violent path” as stated in a Detroit Free Press article.
The prosecution wrote in a court filing, “Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun.”
Crumbley was both mentally ill and fascinated with guns—a deadly and terrifying combination, especially when handled improperly.
Ethan, James and Jennifer Crumbley are currently being housed separately at the Oakland County Jail, and the parents’ bond hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7.
Insider reports that students in the Michigan school district are now required to wear clear backpacks to school upon their return from the holiday break.
The same protocol has been implemented in response to past school shootings. For instance, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida mandated see-through backpacks in 2018 after the Parkland mass shooting took 17 lives.
Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne announced that therapy dogs, counselors, trauma specialists and private security will be present in all buildings. He added that all employees received trauma-response training “to be as prepared as possible to help our students.”
The trend seen in countless schools across the U.S. reached Oakland County on that dark day in November. An unexpected tragedy, yet it is simultaneous dreaded by every school district.
On Friday, Dec. 3 at 7p.m., the Oxford High community held a candlelight vigil for those who died by the hands of yet another irresponsible American gunowner.