By Deepti Govind
The 15-year-old who opened fire on his fellow students at Oxford High School in Michigan on Tuesday, Nov. 30, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism. He faces life in prison on both the terrorism and murder counts. Charging an accused school shooter with terrorism is rare, CNN said in a report.
Ethan Crumbley is said to have fired over 30 shots at people in a hallway and through classroom doors, per law enforcement officials. He’s been accused of killing four students in the carnage, which also left seven others wounded, including a teacher. Crumbley pled not guilty to the charges.
Three students were in hospitals Wednesday night, including a 17-year-old girl in critical condition. The others who were injured were discharged. Meanwhile, multiple school districts in suburban Detroit will be closed Thursday, Dec. 2, due to threats of more violence in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting.
“He deliberately brought the handgun that day with the intent to murder as many students as he could,” assistant prosecutor Marc Keast said of Crumbley, according to a report by Associated Press. Keast successfully argued for no bail for Crumbley and a transfer to jail from a juvenile facility.
No motive has been offered yet. But according to the Associated Press report, prosecutor Karen McDonald said the shooting was premeditated based on a “mountain of digital evidence” against Crumbley. Authorities investigating the shooting found videos on his phone that showed him talking about killing students, a sheriff’s official said on Wednesday, Dec. 1, per an NBC News report.
Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Willis said the videos were recorded the night before the shooting. Authorities also allegedly found a journal with entries that mentioned shooting and killing students. “This was not just an impulsive act,” prosecutor McDonald told reporters.
Earlier, Sheriff Mike Bouchard told reporters that Crumbley’s parents were called to the school on Tuesday “for behavior in the classroom that was concerning,” per Associated Press. Crumbley remained in school, though, and the shooting occurred a few hours later. Bouchard didn’t say what had worried school officials, but he said investigators believed the gun was already in the 1,700-student school.
Based on a security video he’d seen, assistant prosecutor Keast said Crumbley walked into a bathroom with a backpack and emerged a few minutes later with a semi-automatic handgun. His father had bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer gun only last week.
Prosecutor McDonald said terrorism wasn’t a usual or typical charge in such cases, according to another Associated Press article. But the victims of the shooting were not just the four students who were killed and the seven others injured, McDonald added.
“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? Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community. The charge of terrorism reflects that,” McDonald was quoted as saying by Associated Press.
Michigan law defines an act of terrorism as a “willful and deliberate act that is all of the following:
- An act that would be a violent felony under the laws of this state, whether or not committed in this state.
- An act that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life.
- An act that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion.
But in Florida — where the 2018 high school massacre in Parkland occurred, for example — the shooter was not charged with terrorism. The law has more typically been used to charge people with making terroristic threats like calling in bomb threats, said Matthew Schneider, a former federal prosecutor who is uninvolved in the case, per Associated Press.
When it comes to other school districts that will be closed: Bloomfield Hills School District Superintendent Pat Watson wrote in a notice published at 11 p.m. Wednesday that its schools would be shut after “BHS and other communities across the region have received numerous reports of threats of violence circulating on social media.” Holly Area Schools also announced their schools will be closed Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3 “out of an abundance of caution” for similar threats posted on social media.
However, a joint investigation with the district and the Holly Police Department produced “no source for the original threat” and deemed it as “not credible due to a lack of evidence.” The Oxford Community Schools, the Oakland County district where the shooting took place, will be closed through the rest of the week, officials said in a post on the system’s website.