Oxford school district requests third-party probe into events leading up to shooting

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

The Oxford school district is requesting a third-party investigation into the events leading up to Tuesday's shooting in which four students were killed and seven others injured.

Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne wrote a letter to "Wildcat Nation" on Saturday saying the investigation is needed "because our community and our families deserve a full, transparent accounting of what occurred."

Tim Throne, superintendent of Oxford Community Schools

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"... Many of our parents have understandably been asking for the school's version of events leading up to the shooting. It's critically important to the victims, our staff and our entire community that a full and transparent accounting be made," Throne's letter said.

"To that end, I've asked for a third-party investigation be conducted so we leave no stone unturned, including any and all interaction the student had with staff and students."

A sign is posted along Lapeer Road at Dutton Road in Lake Orion on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, for the victims of the shooting at Oxford High School.

The 15-year-old accused of the shooting, Ethan Crumbley, is currently being held in Oakland County Jail without bond, facing 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. 

Crumbley was charged as an adult and is facing up to life in prison.

Crumbley's parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, were arrested early Saturday morning after evading police. The two parents are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter and were given a combined $1 million bond.

On Thursday, the district's superintendent maintained no discipline was in order for Ethan Crumbley leading up to the attack despite the fact the teen had been called up to the office along with his parents just before the shootings.

That morning, an Oxford High teacher was so disturbed by what she saw on Crumbley's desk, she took out her cellphone and snapped a photo as evidence to show school leaders.

According to authorities, on a piece of paper in front of Crumbley, the teacher saw the words: "the thoughts won't stop, help me" and a drawing of a bullet and the phrase: "blood everywhere."

There was a sketch of a person shot twice and bleeding, a laughing emoji and the final lines: “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.”

At the Tuesday meeting at the school with his parents, the teen produced the note but it had been scribbled over in several places in an attempt to hide its contents, officials said.

Oxford school officials showed the parents the drawings and said they were required to get their son into counseling in the next 48 hours. They asked the parents to remove the teen from the school that day.

But the parents left the school without him, and the teen was returned to class, prosecutors allege, with a semi-automatic gun tucked inside his backpack.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald also said that on Nov. 29, a teacher at Oxford High School reported Ethan was searching for ammunition on his phone. The school reached out to Jennifer Crumbley but never heard back from the parents.

Jennifer later allegedly texted Ethan about the episode: “LOL, I’m not gonna get mad at you, you have to learn to not get caught.”

Near the end of a nearly 13-minute video released Thursday, Throne said, "no discipline was warranted."

"There are no discipline records at the high school. Yes, this student did have contact with our front office, and yes, his parents were on campus Nov. 30. I will take any and all questions at a later time. But that’s not now."

In Saturday's letter, Throne said an independent security consultant would review the district's safety practices and procedures.

An initial review, including a review of video evidence, shows the response by staff and students to the shooting was "efficient, exemplary and finitely prevented further deaths and injuries," Throne said.

The district said it will continue to provide regular updates to school families and the community and offer grief counselors for anyone who needs support.  

Staff Writer Jennifer Chambers contributed.