Oxford High suspect named, charged with murder, other crimes in school shootings
Pontiac — Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has charged 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley with numerous felony counts, including murder and terrorism in a Tuesday shooting at Oxford High School that killed four students and wounded seven.
McDonald said overall she approved charging Crumbley with 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 for Crumbley.
There's "a mountain of digital evidence," McDonald said, including social media and videotape, and her office is confident that the shootings were "absolutely premeditated."
"This is unspeakable," she told reporters during a Wednesday afternoon briefing. "We send our kids to school and we think that they're going to be safe."
The terrorism charge, she added, was warranted not just for those who lost their lives but for the students and families forever traumatized by the rampage.
"What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now who can't eat and can't sleep and can't imagine a world where they could ever step foot back in that school," McDonald said after announcing the charges. "Those are victims too and so are their families and so is the community. The charge of terrorism reflects that."
The prosecutor said she'd only say the name of the suspect once Wednesday, adding "we want to keep our focus on the victims of this horrific tragedy."
The four students killed were Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17.
McDonald noted Juliana, a volleyball player and basketball player, was characterized by her father as “one of the happiest and most joyful kids.”
Baldwin was a talented artist and big sister, Myre was a junior football player and honor student, and Shilling was a co-captain of the bowling team and a golfer, she said.
McDonald also asked for prayers for those still fighting to recover from the attack. She said charging Crumbley as an adult is "necessary" because of the seriousness of the alleged crimes to "achieve justice and protect the public."
The suspect will be arraigned later Wednesday afternoon, she said.
In the span of five minutes on Tuesday, authorities said "15 to 20" shots were fired from a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun inside the school.
Crumbley was arrested. But he invoked his right to silence, as did his parents, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
Bouchard said Wednesday that Crumbley can be seen on video footage reviewed by investigators leaving a school bathroom armed and walking down a school hallway where he began shooting at students and a teacher at close range randomly.
The teen is jailed at Oakland County Children's Village. Authorities executed a search warrant at the teen's home on Tuesday evening.
Bouchard said late Tuesday that the teen used a pistol his father purchased on Black Friday, Nov. 26, in the attack.
McDonald said Wednesday that Crumbley's parents could also face charges in the shooting.
Michigan provides criminal liability for a parent of any child under age 18 whose child violates a state firearm-related law while on school property or in a school vehicle, if the parent had custody of the child and knew the child would commit the violation or acted to further the violation, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
In the February 2000 shooting death of six-year-old Kayla Rolland in a Flint area elementary school, the uncle of the six-year-old boy shooter — Jamelle James — pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter after he left the pistol used in the shooting inside a shoebox in his bedroom. James spent more than two years in prison before he was released on probation.
McDonald declined to comment on whether Crumbley or his parents have any prior criminal record.
"Shortly we will confirm whether or not there will be further charges," she said during a news conference. "However, we know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors. We know that and we have to hold individuals accountable who don't do that."
Important evidence is still being gathered and investigators in her office will pour through the facts and “leave no stone unturned” on “how and why this happened," she said.
McDonald would not elaborate on whether those injured were targeted by Crumbley, but stressed that the suspect is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, "which requires us to prove premeditation."
The prosecutor also put out a call to end gun violence in schools in the country and Oakland County and that she's hoping to move the needle on appropriate gun control legislation.
"We have watched school shootings unfold in this country for far too long," McDonald said. "Sadly, the national spotlight is shining today on our community.
"It's my fervent hope that this will be the last time that we experience an incident happen like this in Oakland County or anywhere," she said.