Oxford school shooting: Here's why suspect Ethan Crumbley was charged with terrorism

Oxford school shooting: Here's why suspect Ethan Crumbley was charged with terrorism
Ethan Crumbley (L) fatally shot 4 and injured 7 others at Oxford High School in Michigan. (Oakland County Sheriff's Office, Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley will be tried as an adult as he faces murder, assault, and weapons charges. Meanwhile, he is also facing one count of terrorism causing death, which is a rare charge for a school shooting.

The Tuesday, November 30 shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan that killed four and injured seven others left people shocked and devastated. 15-year-old Crumbley opened fire inside the campus just before 1 pm, killing Tate Myre, 16; Hana St Julian, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Justin Shilling, also 17, and injuring seven others. Crumbley, a sophomore student at the school, was taken into custody shortly after without incident. Authorities recovered a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol and 18 rounds of unused ammunition from his person.



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The terrorism charge was explained by Oakland County's top prosecutor. "There is no playbook about how to prosecute a school shooting and candidly, I wish I'd never even had -- it didn't occur so I wouldn't have to consider it, but when we sat down, I wanted to make sure all of the victims were represented in the charges that we filed against this individual," prosecutor Karen McDonald told CNN. "If that's not terrorism, I don't know what is."


People visit a makeshift memorial outside of Oxford High School on December 01, 2021, in Oxford, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

McDonald said there was a lot of digital evidence in the case, including videos and other social media posts. "But you probably don't even need to see that to know how terrifying it is to be in close proximity of another student shooting and killing fellow students. I mean, it's terror," she continued. "Like every other child that was in that building, and I address that about the terrorism charge, we must have an appropriate consequence that speaks for the victims that were not killed or injured but also, they were affected, how do they go back to school?"


The prosecutor said many students weren't able to eat or sleep following the harrowing ordeal. "Their parents are sleeping next to them and we shouldn't ignore that," McDonald added. "There are obviously four children who were murdered and many others injured but over 1,000 were also victimized as well."

A young man who was reportedly wounded during the shooting at Oxford High School joins other community members during a vigil at the Lake Point Community Church on November 30, 2021, in Oxford, Michigan. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)


Prosecutor Marc Keast noted at Crumbley's arraignment Wednesday, December 1, how the 15-year-old came out of a school bathroom and started firing. He proceeded down the hall, walking at a "methodical pace" and firing more bullets for another four or five minutes before entering another bathroom. Crumbley surrendered himself to the cops when they arrived without incident, the prosecutor added. The judge subsequently entered a plea of not guilty per his attorney's request.


As reported by CNN, Michigan law defines an act of terrorism as a "willful and deliberate act" that includes all of the following:

1. An act that would be a violent felony under the laws of this state, whether or not committed in this state.

2. An act that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life.

3. 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.

Prosecutors said the criminal complaint against Crumbley refers to the third condition, noting the act that was committed against the Oxford High School community. However, charging an accused school shooter with terrorism is rare. In 2018, an Ocala, Florida student who shot through a door and wounded another student was charged with terrorism. On the other hand, Nikolas Cruz, who shot more than 30 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida two months before the Ocala incident, was charged with 34 counts of premeditated murder and attempted murder. However, he did not face a terrorism charge.


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