Security guard added to Oxford schools lawsuit, judge rules
An Oakland County Circuit Court judge granted a request Wednesday on behalf of parents suing the Oxford Community Schools to add new allegations that an armed security guard at the high school could have prevented at least one student's death during the November mass shooting.
Judge Rae Lee Chabot approved Detroit attorney Ven Johnson's fourth amended complaint to the parents' lawsuit. Johnson alleged the security guard was working inside the high school when the shooting happened around 12:51 p.m. Nov. 30 and overlooked the shooter who was in the bathroom with two students.
"What's shocking and repulsive is an armed security guard with her handgun pulled looking at a bathroom where there's three people, one who is a fully-armed Ethan Crumbley ... and she claims she didn't see anything," Johnson told the judge.
Four students died in the shooting: Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Justin Shilling, 17. Johnson has alleged the guard opened the door to a bathroom where Shilling was with Crumbley and another student and could have prevented Shilling's death.
Attorney Timothy Mullins, who represents the school district, said the 54-year-old security guard was the first responder to the scene. He requested that the motion be denied and that the parties proceed with the initial motion filed in March.
"She did not wait, hesitate, by herself without backup, drew her gun and went in pursuit of the gunman," Mullins told the judge. "I am shocked that a first responder, who didn't wait and went down the hallway by herself while all the other responders were gearing up with their body vests and rifles, would be added to this."
Mullins said continuing to add defendants wouldn't change the outcome of the motion or how it would apply to the Oxford schools after nine months.
Johnson responded that the guard could have stopped the remainder of what happened.
"Moments after she left the bathroom, Ethan Crumbley shot and killed Justin Shilling in front of Keegan Gregory, who then ran out the bathroom who escaped, luckily, with his life thinking he was going to get shot in the back the entire time," Johnson told the judge.
He added that Oxford wouldn't turn over surveillance footage to the parents, despite the judge's order to do so. Mullins said the footage is not with Oxford schools but with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the shooting investigation.
Johnson said the plaintiffs will be filing another show cause hearing to hold either the Oxford school board president, Oakland County sheriff or Oakland County prosecutor in contempt of court for not following the judge's orders to hand over all the footage.
"So we can once and for all get all the information so we can assess who else to add," Johnson said. "I can assure Mr. Mullins will be shocked and repulsed no matter who I add from his clients and if there are others that did the same thing, we will be adding them ... for him to stand here and tell you that I'm trying to delay anything is a joke."
The guard's side
Mullins is representing Kimberly Potts, a former Oakland County sheriff's deputy, who is being alleged of not stopping Crumbley in the bathroom.
While Mullins said Potts will not speak directly, he shared her side with The Detroit News on Wednesday after the judge's decision to include her in the lawsuit.
Mullins said factually, Potts' job is to serve as a student monitor in the lunchroom area for four periods, but as a retired police officer, she could add a security component to the school and is licensed to carry a firearm.
“In truth, she’s not a security guard but a lunchroom monitor. She monitors first lunch period to fourth. She works about 28 hours a week," he said.
After the school alarm sounded before 1 p.m. Nov. 30, Potts understood there to be trouble and came across one student who had been shot and the assistant principal who was providing CPR to that student.
"The assistant principal tells her this is not a drill, she doesn't know what is happening and he tells her the shooter is down the hallway," Mullins said. "The facts will eventually show this 54-year-old woman who had a hip replacement drew her weapon and went where she understands the shooter to be but never did find him."
At the time, the hallways were almost exclusively clear except for responding staff and Crumbley, Mullins said. Potts was looking left to right, through lots of doors and unbeknown to her, Crumbley was in the bathroom with two other students, he said.
"She went to the bathroom, opened the door, saw a privacy wall, didn’t hear or see anything and continued to move down the hallway," Mullins said. "(Johnson) criticized that she didn't fully checked the bathroom and who knows what would have occurred if she did. There possibly could have been a shootout had she fully entered.
"She continued to proceed and finally, after she gets down that hallway, a group of sheriff’s deputies enters and arrests Mr. Crumbley. She then begins rendering first aid to students on the floor," Mullins added.
The sheriff's office has conducted an extensive investigation and Mullins said the agency doesn't have any of the material Johnson is seeking.
"He's going back to the prosecutor's office to argue for the material; however, the school has produced everything that it has since the investigators have all the school's servers," he told The News.