Third party to probe events before Michigan school shooting

  • In US
  • 2021-12-06 23:55:00Z
  • By CBS News

An independent third party will investigate the events leading up to the deadly shooting at a Michigan high school last month. Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of killing four people and wounding seven others in a mass shooting at Oxford High School on November 30. 

Oxford Community Schools superintendent Tim Throne said in a letter that an initial review showed that the response to the shooter was "efficient, exemplary and definitely prevented further deaths and injuries." Throne said in the letter that he requested the review by an independent security consultant because the "community and our families deserve a full, transparent accounting of what occurred." 

"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 said in a statement Saturday. "We also plan to make regular updates to our families and community."

Following the shooting, county prosecutor Karen McDonald detailed a series of missteps prior to the tragedy, accusing the suspect's parents of ignoring warning signs. The morning of the shooting, a teacher saw Crumbley with a note containing a drawing of a gun, a bullet, and a person who appeared to be shot twice and bleeding. It also contained the words: "The thoughts won't stop, help me," McDonald said. 

Throne said Saturday that the teen claimed the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and told counselors he wanted to go into video game design. His parents were called to the office, but did not arrive for another hour and half. While waiting, Crumbley requested his homework be brought to him and worked on that in the meantime, according to Throne.

"At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm," Throne said. 

When both of his parents arrived, Crumbley was asked "specific probing questions" about whether he wanted to harm himself or others. His answers were "affirmed" by his parents during the meeting, and his parents "never advised" school officials that he had access to a gun they bought for him, Throne said. School officials asked Crumbley's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, to take him home, but they refused. They were required to seek counseling for Crumbley within 48 hours, Throne said.

"Given the fact that the child had no prior disciplinary infractions, the decision was made he would be returned to the classroom rather than sent home to an empty house," Thorne said. "These incidents remained at the guidance counselor level and were never elevated to the principal or assistant principal's office. While we understand this decision has caused anger, confusion and prompted understandable questioning, the counselors made a judgment based on their professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts we now know. Our counselors are deeply committed longstanding school members who have dedicated their lives to supporting students and addressing student mental health and behavioral issues."

Questions were also raised as to whether Crumbley had the gun used in the shooting in his backpack throughout his time in the office prior to the shooting. In his letter, Throne said that information "has not been confirmed by law enforcement to our knowledge nor by our investigation at this time."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has also offered to have her office conduct an outside investigation. 

"This is a tragic situation, and we can all benefit from understanding what happened," Nessel said Sunday. "My office can provide a wide-ranging, comprehensive investigation and report into what happened, how it happened, and what we need to do to make sure it never happens again."

We have reached out to the attorney for the Oxford Community School District and have offered the services of the Michigan Departmemt of Attorney General to conduct a full and comprehensive review of the 11/30/21 shooting and the events leading up to it.

- Dana Nessel (@dananessel) December 5, 2021

Crumbley faces 24 charges stemming from the shooting, including four counts of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism causing death, for which he was charged as an adult. He has since pleaded not guilty.

His parents have also been charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter for allowing Crumbley access to the gun. They were arrested Saturday and have also pleaded not guilty. 

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