Oakland County prosecutor: No need to delay independent review of Oxford High shooting

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Oxford Township — Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald on Thursday weighed in on the prospect of an independent, third-party review of the deadly Nov. 30 Oxford High School shooting and says "there is no reason" to delay such a review.

McDonald's office shared the letter Friday. 

Oxford Community Schools officials said earlier this week that no independent review of the shooting could be done until all the criminal and civil litigation is resolved. That could take years. Years that would pass before the independent review could even start.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in her office in Pontiac, Michigan on December 15, 2021.

"Given the nature and the breadth of the current criminal and civil proceedings, the review of the tragedy and associative events of Nov. 30, 2021, will not occur until the criminal and civil litigations are complete," Oxford School Board President Tom Donnelly said Tuesday during a school board meeting.

More:Oxford shooting victim’s father awaits fulfillment of district promise

More:Nessel, parents blast Oxford schools for delaying shooting investigation

Slain in the Nov. 30 shooting were four Oxford High School students: Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.

Oxford parents and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel have blasted the district for that stance. 

"To me this is an admission of guilt," Buck Myre, Tate's father, said during a press conference Wednesday at his attorney's office. 

The Oxford High School Media Center is packed during the school board meeting, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Nearly six months after an alleged student gunman killed four Oxford High School students in school, the district updates the community, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, at its 6:30 p.m. board meeting about its promise to have a third-party review into the incident. Families of victims including the family of Hana St. Juliana are outraged no independent investigation has been done. Last week a school board subcommittee was created to consider third-party review candidates and held two public meetings but has yet to formally recommend or present options to the full school board.

Myre and other Oxford parents in January one of the two civil cases that have resulted. They are represented by Attorney Ven Johnson, who filed the case in Oakland County Circuit Court.

The other civil case was filed by Attorney Geoffrey Fieger in federal court. 

More:Tate Myre's parents sue Crumbleys, Oxford HS teachers, counselors

"They know things didn’t go right that day and they don't want to stand up and fix it," Myre added. "They are going to hide behind government immunity, insurance and lawyers. What does this teach the kids?"

AG Nessel on Wednesday accused Oxford's school board members of being "more focused on limiting liability" than responding to the concerns of the community and investigating the events that led up to the shooting at the Oakland County district in which six students and a teacher were wounded.

Parents' quest for answers was endorsed Thursday by McDonald, who is prosecuting the two criminal cases in the shooting: a murder and terrorism case against alleged shooter Ethan Crumbley, 16, and an involuntary manslaughter case against his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley.

"There is no reason to delay an independent review of the Oxford High School shooting," McDonald wrote. "An independent commission can conduct a thorough analysis of the events and factors that contributed to the shooting, can hold public hearings, and can recommend steps to make our schools safer and make our students feel safe."

McDonald referenced, as a successful model of such an independent review, the work of the Sandy Hook Commission. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, left 20 school kids and six teachers dead.

The advisory commission that studied the shooting was made up of "experts in the fields of mental health, law enforcement training and response, designing secure schools, and public policy implementation," McDonald wrote. The Sandy Hook Commission published a 277-page final report just 2 1/2 years later, on March 6, 2015.

McDonald finished her statement by saying that "the Oxford victims and the entire Oxford community want such an independent review, and they deserve it. The lessons we learn will benefit all of us.”