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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Suspect in Michigan school shooting faces murder and terrorism charges

By Jennifer Conlin, Mitch Smith, Giulia Heyward and Jack Healy


On Tuesday morning, the parents of a 15-year-old sophomore walked into Oxford High School to meet face to face with school officials who had grown concerned about their son’s classroom behavior.


About three hours after that meeting started, according to law enforcement authorities, the student, Ethan Crumbley, walked into a school bathroom carrying a backpack and emerged with a handgun. He began firing, killing four students and wounding seven people in the deadliest school shooting this year, authorities said.


New details about the suspect’s behavior and actions in the hours leading up to the shooting spree emerged Wednesday as he was charged with terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder and an array of other charges.


Prosecutors said they were also considering charges against the suspect’s parents. Authorities said Crumbley carried out the shooting in a Detroit suburb using a handgun his father had bought four days earlier.


On Wednesday, as people in the shattered Oxford community grieved and asked whether any warning signs had been missed, authorities offered the first details of what they described as a “mountain” of digital and paper evidence showing the suspect’s planning and desire to kill students at Oxford High School.


During a video arraignment, law enforcement authorities told a judge that investigators had recovered two cellphone videos Crumbley had made the night before the shooting in which he talked about killing Oxford students the next day. They also found a journal in his backpack detailing his desire to “shoot up” the school, authorities said.


“This defendant planned the shooting,” Marc Keast, an Oakland County prosecutor, told a judge. “He deliberately brought the handgun that day with the intent to murder as many students as he could.”


Crumbley fired more than 30 rounds as terrified students raced for safety and locked themselves inside classrooms with doors barricaded by desks, the authorities said. He still had 18 rounds in his possession when he was apprehended, they said.


The toll of the shooting grew Wednesday after a fourth student, Justin Shilling, 17, died about 10 a.m. at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, according to the sheriff’s office.


The other students killed were Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Tate Myre, 16, who died in a sheriff’s squad car while on the way to a hospital.


At least two of the injured students, who officials said ranged in age from 14 to 17, remained in critical condition. A teacher, the only wounded adult, was discharged from a hospital Tuesday.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald acknowledged that her decision to charge the suspect with terrorism was not typical for a mass shooting prosecution, but she said it reflected the wider trauma suffered by the hundreds of students who fled gunshots, hid under their desks and will be haunted for years.


“Those are victims too, and so are their families and so is the community,” she said. “The charge of terrorism reflects that.”


Crumbley was also charged with seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.


Classmates, family members and law enforcement officials mourned and memorialized the victims Wednesday. As McDonald announced the charges against the suspect, she also paused to offer a few details about the victims — athletes, a big sister, an honors student, a joyful kid.


Baldwin was described by her grandmother on a GoFundMe page as a “beautiful, smart, sweet loving girl,” and the prosecutor called her a talented artist and big sister.


Baldwin’s grandmother Jennifer Mosqueda said on the website that her family was “lost for words,” and that the day of the shooting had been “absolutely unbelievable for all involved.”


Myre was a linebacker and tight end on the school’s football team and had recently earned an all-region award from the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association. He died Tuesday in a patrol car as authorities rushed him to a hospital. By Wednesday, an online petition to rename the school’s stadium in his honor had more than 67,000 signatures.


He was described by his classmates as incredibly well liked, funny and intelligent.


Shilling was a golfer and co-captain of the boys’ bowling team at the school, according to McDonald.


St. Juliana, the youngest killed, was a freshman on the volleyball and basketball teams whose parents wanted people to know her as one of the “happiest and most joyful kids,” McDonald said.


Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told reporters that investigators were poring through many hours of video from security cameras all over the school to track the suspect’s actions, but that his targets “appeared random.”


Bouchard also said investigators had not determined a motive for the shooting, which he described as “absolutely brutally coldhearted.”


Crumbley had initially been held in a juvenile jail, but a judge later ordered that he be moved to the adult jail and held in isolation, with no contact with adult inmates. No bond was set.


At a news conference Wednesday, Bouchard said Crumbley had been called into meetings with school officials for concerning behavior twice this week, once Monday and then in the hours before the shooting Tuesday. His parents were also summoned to the school for the Tuesday meeting.


Despite those concerns, Bouchard said his agency had received no information about the suspect before the shooting. Asked whether law enforcement should have been notified, he said, “We always prefer to err on the side of too much rather than too little.”


Bouchard also said his office had no indication of danger at Oxford High before the shooting. He said an incident from last month involving a severed deer head at the school was not related to the shooting. And he said deputies had investigated a possible threat in November but found that it was not credible and pertained to a school in a different state.


Bouchard said the district had no record that Crumbley had been bullied at school and that he did not believe specific students were targeted in the attack. A court official said during a hearing that Crumbley did not have a previous juvenile record.


A lawyer for Crumbley declined to discuss details of the case.

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