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A lawyer representing several families whose children were killed or injured in the November 30, 2021, shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan argued on Thursday that school staff had ignored the gunman’s warning signs for months.
Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 years old when he allegedly fatally shot four students and wounded several others inside the school that day, drew disturbing photos, wrote answers to assignments that concerned teachers, and saw footage of bullets and a video of a shooting in his phone in the months and days leading up to the shooting.
“Today, he’s watching videos on his phone of a guy shooting people. Looks like a movie scene and not security footage/an actual event, but definitely troubling considering some of his other behaviors,” one teacher wrote. in an email to school counselor Shawn Hopkins, who is named in attorney Ven Johnson’s lawsuit against Oxford school officials.
Hopkins and student dean Nicholas Ejak met with Crumbley and his parents, who are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting, to discuss violent drawings he created just hours before the deadly attack. The suspect managed to convince them during the meeting that the drawings in question were for a “video game”.
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His parents reportedly “categorically refused” to take their son home, Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald said in December 2021.
Crumbley “knew he would be questioned, so he doctored the drawing and wrote: ‘This is what a video game is’, ‘I love my life so much!!!!’, ‘OHS is awesome!’, ‘We’re all friends here,’ and ‘Harmless act,'” Johnson’s lawsuit alleges.
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But even months before the shooting, teachers signaled warning signs that were largely ignored by other school officials.
“What we know now is this. Literally, from the very beginning of school, Ethan Crumbley was showing signs of being a highly troubled individual, to say the least,” Johnson said during a press conference on Thursday, citing several Oxford testimonials. High School. teachers and counselors.
In late August 2021, Crumbley drew an image of what appeared to be himself alongside what Johnson argues may have been an image of a gun on an assignment his teacher turned in in class. The teacher testified that she hadn’t seen the drawing until months later, according to Johnson. That same teacher caught him watching violent videos on the day of the shooting and alerted school officials.
That same month, Crumbley said in another assignment that his favorite book was “Resistance and Bomb-making for Hitler”.
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In September 2021, Crumbley was the subject of an email from his Spanish teacher to Hopkins.
“Could you please get in touch with Ethan Crumbley?” she wrote. “In his autobiographical poem, he said he feels terrible and that his family is a mistake. Unusual answers, for sure.”
Hopkins reportedly never spoke to Crumbley afterwards, although the counselor apparently told the Spanish teacher that he spoke to the 15-year-old, Johnson said Thursday.
Two months later, on November 10, 2021 – 20 days before the shooting – the Spanish teacher again sent Hopkins an email saying that Crumbley is “having a hard time right now”. Johnson alleges that Hopkins ended up pulling Crumbley out of his classroom and invited him to come to a counselor’s office to talk whenever he wanted, to which the 15-year-old replied, “OK.”
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One of Crumbley’s teachers also took pictures of his drawings from the morning of the shooting and took them to the school’s front desk to show staff.
Additionally, a classmate told the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department that around November 25, Crumbley told him, “If I tell you not to go to school someday, don’t go,” according to Johnson. The next day, Crumbley allegedly showed his colleague his gun and a target on his Instagram account.
Johnson argues that the defendants in the civil suit assumed that other defendants were addressing the teachers’ concerns.
“Everybody assuming that everybody is doing something, and nobody is doing anything,” the lawyer said.
Buck Myre, father of 16-year-old Tate Myre, killed in the shooting, condemned the school district for not taking responsibility for its actions and decisions before and after Nov. clear process” for teachers to express their concerns to school staff.
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“If you look at these emails sent by teachers, there is no consistency as to who the emails go to. It tells me that there is no process for attacking something like this,” Myre said Thursday. “It’s blatantly obvious that the Oxford Community Schools are withholding information. They know they missed the ball. … Meanwhile, here we are buying commemorative shirts for our murdered son. What are the Oxford Community Schools doing? Nothing. . .. They are hiding behind government immunity.”
Johnson has filed civil lawsuits on behalf of several students and families who were victims of the shooting, accusing Crumbley, parents James and Jennifer Crumbley and school officials of negligence. A judge recently ordered the release of materials, including surveillance footage of the shooting, in Johnson’s case.
The four victims killed in the November 2021 shooting were Myre, 16-year-old Justin Shilling, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17.
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