Ethan Crumbley: Oxford School explains how it missed suspect's warning signs
After the Oxford school -- where four students were shot dead by 15-year-old suspect Ethan Crumbley -- was slammed for not doing enough to protect the students despite prior warnings, the school is now defending its handling of the suspect’s disturbing behavior. It has also promised an outside investigation into its actions.
Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne admitted in a letter released on Saturday, December 4, that school officials accepted Ethan Crumbley’s explanations into why he drew violent images and statements, and why he was looking at pictures of bullets on his phone. He was sent to class when his parents refused to take him home.
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“Given the fact that the child had no prior disciplinary infractions, the decision was made [that] he would be returned to the classroom rather than sent home to an empty house,” Throne wrote. “These incidents remained at the guidance counselor level and were never elevated to the principal or assistant principal’s office.” The letter further said that the Crumbleys gave them no reason to believe that Ethan's behavior showed signs of danger. The school, however, recommended that the parents take him for counseling. On November 29, Ethan was found looking at bullet photos on his cellphone in class. He later explained to a counselor that shooting was a family hobby. The school reportedly tried to call Jennifer Crumbley to have a word with her on the matter, but she did not return the call. The parents, when called by the school later, claimed that they were all indeed gun enthusiasts.
A teacher had also reportedly seen “concerning drawings and written statements”, including the drawings of a handgun, of a person who had been shot, laughing emojis, a bullet, and the phrases: “the thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” “blood everywhere,” “my life is useless,” and “the world is dead.” "The student was immediately removed from the classroom and brought to the guidance counselor’s office where he claimed the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and informed counselors that he planned to pursue video game design as a career. The student’s parents were also called in,” Throne wrote. He added that “at no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm.”
“While both of his parents were present, counselors asked specific probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others. His answers, which were affirmed by his parents during the interview, led counselors to again conclude he did not intend on committing either self-harm or harm to others,” Throne wrote. “The student’s parents never advised the school district that he had direct access to a firearm or that they had recently purchased a firearm for him.”
The school reportedly told the Crumbleys that they had 48 hours to get counseling for Ethan, otherwise Child Protective Services will be called. “When the parents were asked to take their son home for the day, they flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work,” the letter said.
“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,” he wrote. Thorne claimed he has “personally asked for a third-party review of all the events of the past week because our community and our families deserve a full, transparent accounting of what occurred.”
On Sunday morning, December 5, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel publicly responded to Thorne. She assured that her office was willing to conduct a “full and comprehensive” investigation. "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," she tweeted.
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. https://t.co/gLa4HLrbVa— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) December 5, 2021
“Our attorneys and special agents are uniquely qualified to perform an investigation of this magnitude,” Nessel continued in a second tweet, “and are prepared to perform an extensive investigation and inquiry to answer the many questions the community has regarding this tragedy.”
Our attorneys and special agents are uniquely qualified to perform an investigation of this magnitude and are prepared to perform an extensive investigation and inquiry to answer the many questions the community has regarding this tragedy.— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) December 5, 2021
Authorities also found videos on the suspect's phone that show him talking about killing students, a sheriff’s official said. The disclosure was made before the arraignment of Ethan Crumbley, 15, against whom Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has announced charges, 4 counts of first-degree murder, 7 counts of assault with intent to murder, 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and 1 count of terrorism causing death.
Unconfirmed screenshots have also fueled rumors about the incident. A video has been doing the rounds on social media, allegedly showing the shooter throwing a Molotov cocktail in his backyard. Social media is claiming that despite the signs, school authorities did not take the required steps. The school has been slammed for not doing enough to protect the students despite prior warnings.
Another unconfirmed screenshot has revealed a post by the school authorities on November 12, where they seem to have claimed that there were rumors about something bad happening in the school and that they have taken adequate protection. It is not clear what the rumors were. "We are aware of the numerous rumors that have been circulating throughout our building this week. Student interpretations of social posts and false information have exacerbated the overall concern. We want our parents and students to know there has been no threat to our building nor our students," the post reads, in parts.
Internet sleuths have discovered that the suspect had posted creepy pictures on his Instagram account, where he began an alleged countdown before carrying out the shooting, terming it 'Return of The Devil'. The shooting survivors claimed that the suspect had specific targets whom he attacked first, but it is unclear how the suspect and the victims were connected.
Reportedly, the suspect was previously blacklisted for shocking offenses on school premises. He allegedly once threw the head of a dead deer into a locked courtyard while on the roof. He also painted threatening messages on the school walls. The principal, however, had reassured parents that the person was not a threat.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff's Office announced on December 4 that James and Jennifer would be facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, they will face 15 years in prison. Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald defended the charges saying "extreme negligence" led to the school tragedy and the pistol used by the teen fugitive was purchased by James at a Black Friday sale, in presence of his son. James is also accused of failing to keep the firearm away from his son.