DETROIT – Multiple schools across the metro area were closed Thursday because of threats of violence just two days after a 15-year-old shooter at Oxford High School killed four students and wounded seven other people.
Some schools announced that they would close out of excess caution. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard stated that he knew of 60 schools closing due to threats on Thursday afternoon. Most are expected to reopen by Monday.
He said all threats will be thoroughly investigated, though the sheriff’s office anticipated to be inundated with false threats following the tragedy.
“We’d check out 1,000 nothings to make sure we don’t miss the one real,” he said.
At least 14 school districts planned to close for at least one day. Bloomfield Hills Schools’ superintendent wrote Wednesday night, approximately 20 miles away from Oxford Township, that the district had received “many threats of violence” via social media.
The closures come a day after Ethan Crumbley appeared in court on first-degree murder and terrorism charges after police say he opened fire at Oxford High with the “intent to kill.” Crumbley, a sophomore student from Oxford High, pleaded guilty but was not granted bond. If convicted, Crumbley could be sentenced to life imprisonment
Marc Keast, assistant prosecutor, said that Crumbley was seen “methodically and purposefully” moving down a hall and shooting at students.
“What’s depicted on that video, honestly, judge, I don’t have the words to describe how horrific that was,” Keast said in court.
We know what you are thinking.
The ‘Intent To Kill’An interactive timeline showing the events that led to the shooting death at Oxford High School
Gun-related charges could land the shooter’s parents in jail
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald indicated more charges could be coming soon for others, specifically saying they were reviewing charges against the suspect’s parents.
“We know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors.
“We have to hold individuals accountable who don’t do that.”
McDonald said Thursday the parents’ actions went “far beyond negligence.”
“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” McDonald told WJR-AM. The gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”
Bouchard said the suspect’s father had purchased the 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 gun four days before the shooting.
Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and a lawyer, said prosecutors would have to pursue a legal theory of criminal negligence in potentially charging the parents because the state does not have strict child access prevention laws like others have adopted.
Brown explained that although parents could be charged with the crime, it would still deter others. She also said that this shows shifting blame and highlights “the failure” of federal gun laws to make them more strict.
“The prosecutor has to believe that juries will accept that gun violence is so common in our country, that school shootings are so common in our country, that the failure to safely store your gun is tantamount to rendering a potential death sentence to others if a child finds that gun,” she said.
Police: Suspect talked about killing students in cellphone video
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tim Willis said during the arraignment that videos were recovered from the suspect’s cellphone, including “a video made by him the night before the incident wherein he talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School.”
Willis said authorities also found the suspect’s journal “detailing his desire to shoot up a school.”
A review of Crumbley’s social media accounts and other documents show he planned the shooting and “brought the handgun that day with the intent to murder as many students as he could,” Keast said.
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McDonalds said during a conference that McDonalds had “a mountain” of digital evidence and videotape. She was also confident there was premeditation for the crime “well before the incident.”
Crumbley, who was wearing dark green jail clothes and a mask, quietly sat at one table throughout the hearing. Over about 90 minutes, he stated his name and answered the judge’s questions briefly.
Bouchard explained that school personnel had flagged the 15-year old suspect twice before the attack for “concerning conduct”. Both the first and second incidents occurred one day before the attack, Bouchard stated.
Bouchard reported that the suspect’s parents came to school at 10 am for a meeting. This was about three hours before shooting.
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What happened to the Oxford school shooter?
The victims were identified as Tate Myre (16), Madisyn Balb (17), Hana Saint Juliana (14) and Justin Shilling (17).
Myre is remembered for being a great football player who was recruited to college as an honor student.
Baldwin was an aspiring artist and a “smart, sweet loving girl,” her grandmother wrote on a GoFundMe.
St. Juliana “was one of the happiest and most joyful kids,” her father told McDonald. She was on the basketball and volleyball teams and loved learning how to cook, said Jennifer Curtis, who lived in her neighborhood.
Shilling participated in the golf and bowling team. He was “simply a pleasure to be around,” Anita’s Kitchen, a Middle Eastern restaurant where he worked, posted on Facebook.
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Were the terrorists charged against him?
The suspect was charged with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
McDonald said the terrorism charge is in relation to the horrors inflicted upon the rest of the school’s community who weren’t direct victims but still faced trauma.
What about the screaming children hiding behind desks and running? “What about the home children? What about those who don’t have enough to eat or sleep, and aren’t capable of imagining a place where they can go back to school? McDonalds stated it.
McDonald’s acknowledged that it wasn’t a common, typical charge.
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Michigan’s 2002 antiterrorism statute defines terrorist acts as violent felonies “dangerous for human life” that are “intentional to intimidate or coerce civilian populations or influence the conduct or control of government units through intimidation and coercion.”
Brown indicated that while school shootings don’t often lead to terrorism charges, it is possible for a prosecutor in such cases to have some “deterrent” effect. If the case is successful, Brown said she might see other potential cases of school shootings prosecutors apply terrorist laws.
“The terrorism charge certainly should drive home the point … that school shootings for many parents and for the kids are acts of domestic terrorism. We feel that way.
Contributing: Phoebe Wall Howard, John Wisely, Clara Hendrickson, Jennifer Dixon, Georgea Kovanis, Darcie Moran and Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press; The Associated Press