On November 30, 2021, students got ready for a normal day at Oxford High School in Michigan.
The school is located in Oakland County and has a population of 3,436 according to the 2010 census. Students who attend the high school are from multiple neighboring towns, putting the enrollment around 1,600 students.
Just to give you more an idea of the demographic of the area – The racial makeup of Oxford is 95.1% White, 1.9% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.4% of the population.
The high school was renovated and expanded in 2003-04.
So back to November 30.
15 year old Ethan Crumbley was a student at Oxford High. At around 12.45pm, he left his class to ‘ use the bathroom’.
He can be seen on CCTV at around 12.51pm entering a bathroom while carrying a backpack. He emerges a few minutes later with no backpack, but this time he is carrying a semiautomatic gun.
This info about the next few minutes comes from CNN:
Ethan then allegedly began to “methodically and deliberately” walk the hallways and aim a gun at students and fire the weapon. When students began to run away, the accused allegedly continued to go down the hallway at a “methodical pace” and shot inside classrooms and at students who hadn’t escaped.’
“My teacher, he walked into the classroom; he locked the door, and he told us to call 911. And then we heard the rest of the gunshots go off, more screams,” Zander Cumbey told CNN.
An announcement was made over the intercom, announcing that there was an active shooter on the campus.
One student who hid in a bathroom stall recalled hearing the sound of a gun cocking outside the bathroom. Once the school was secured, he opened the bathroom door to find several bodies lying on the floor.
The entire rampage lasted for 4-5 minutes before Ethan walked into another bathroom. Police sped to the scene at 12.52pm (one minute after the shooting started) arrived very quickly, and when they got to the scene, Ethan put his gun down and surrendered.
Even though the attack was over fairly quickly in terms of minutes, there are so many accounts from terrified students who said it felt like it went for hours.
Aiden Page, a senior at Oxford High School, described a terrifying scene in his classroom.
“We heard two gunshots. And after that, my teacher ran into the room, locked it, we barricaded and then we covered the windows and hid,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“We grabbed calculators, we grabbed scissors just in case the shooter got in and we had to attack them,” he said, describing how the shooter was so close that a bullet pierced one of the desks he and other students used to block the door.
One student who called 911 was so close to where the rampage was taking place, all he could whisper into the phone was ‘Oxford High School shooter’. He couldn’t say anything else to avoid being heard.
911 dispatchers received more than 100 calls in a five minute period following the initial shooting.
Ethan was arrested within two minutes of officers arriving on the scene.
Before he was arrested, he had managed to fire at least 30 shots. Three people had died (at that time) and many more were injured. Ethan allegedly still had seven rounds of ammunition loaded into his gun and two 15-round magazines when he was stopped by the deputies.
This shooting is the deadliest on a K-12 Campus in the US since 2018.
On social media, there was no word straight away about who the shooter was. There were lots of online rumors (as usual), most of which were wrong.
We did start seeing some information later that night that a teen named Ethan Crumbley may be involved and this obviously turned out to be correct.
Ethan lived in Oxford with his mother Jennifer and father James.
He seemed to have a fairly ‘ normal’ childhood from the outside. He has a half brother who lives in Florida and never really got into much trouble until 2021. His brother Eli spoke to the media and said:
‘The Ethan I knew was just a smart boy who just seemed like an average kid. ‘There was nothing that ever stood out to me. He’d never get suspended from school, or detention.
‘He didn’t suffer depression or anything like that. He woke up happy, went to school, came home and played games.’
Ethan and Eli have the same father. Jennifer Crumbley is Ethan’s mother (not Eli’s) and is James’ second wife.
In the same interview, Eli said he moved from Michigan to Florida last March,
‘It mostly had to do with the relationship between my stepmother and I,’ Eli said. He wouldn’t elaborate other than to say: ‘It wasn’t as great as it could be. Moving back to Florida was the best option for me.
Eli has said he had not spoken to his father or Ethan for two months before the shootings occurred.
‘I didn’t know he had a gun till after this happened,’ he said. ‘It’s still hard to believe,’ he said. ‘I can’t believe it.’
‘As far as I knew, Ethan was always good,’ Eli added. ‘He was just quiet, kept to himself, kept his circle of friends small. He was a clean kid, didn’t smoke or do drugs, nothing.’
‘And he got good grades,’ Eli said. ‘He wanted to be an archeologist.’
‘When I was living there, nothing seemed off, ‘ he continued. ‘We’d just walk to the bus stop in the morning, go to school, come home, maybe play some football outside or basketball. We’d just chill, wouldn’t do much.’
Ethan was on the bowling and soccer teams in middle school, he said, but didn’t play team sports in high school.
He said his brother’s biggest hobby was video games, which he’d play at night. His favorite was Minecraft.
Asked whether he knew of any other problems Ethan was experiencing, Eli noted that they had an aunt who died a couple months ago and that Ethan recently also lost his pet dog, Tank.
‘I really don’t know what his reasoning was behind this,’ Eli said.
As a note, following the shootings, there were a lot of fake online profiles that popped up. Many made ‘confessions’ about the motive for the shootings and said that it was bullying.
Police have since said there is no record of Ethan ever being bullied.
While Ethan seemed to have a normal-ish upbringing, neighbours have since come forward and spoken about their encounters with the Crumbley’s. One said that in 2014 and 2015 (meaning Ethan would have been 8 or 9 years old), Jennifer and James often left their son home alone and without a phone while frequenting bars in downtown Lake Orion. The neighbor became so concerned that she filed an anonymous complaint via phone to the state’s child protective services agency, but she did not know if any action was taken.
On November 26 in a Black Friday sale, James Crumbley took Ethan with him while he purchased a new gun. That same day, Ethan posted on his instagram with a photo of the gun and the caption ‘ Just got my new beauty today SIG SAUER 9mm. Ask any questions I will answer”
Jennifer posted about the same gun a few days later over the weekend. Her caption read “mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present.” Jennifer also took Ethan to a shooting range at some point that weekend. The gun had allegedly been stored in an unlocked safe in Jennifer and James bedroom.
After school resumed following Thanksgiving, one of Ethan’s teachers noticed that he had been searching the internet for ammunition.
The teacher notified school officials, who contacted the parents via phone and email, but they did not respond.
Later on Monday, Jennifer Crumbley sent him a text message saying, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
Later that night, Ethan recorded two videos on his phone where he spoke about shooting and killing students at his school – that info comes from Lt. Tim Willis of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
The following day, Tuesday, a different teacher at Ethan’s school found a drawing on his desk that showed a shooting. It alarmed her to the point that she took a photo of it on her cell phone. The illustration showed a “semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words ‘the thoughts won’t stop help me,'” and it included a drawing of a bullet with the words “blood everywhere” written above it, she said. The words “my life is useless” and “the world is dead” were also written on the drawing.
School officials were so disturbed by the images that they contacted Ethan’s parents to arrange an urgent meeting. Ethan’s backpack was not searched during this time – if it had of been, officials would have found the gun he had stashed there.
The parents arrived at the school and were shown the note. Counselors asked Ethan about his potential to harm himself or others. Based on whatever his answers were , they determined that he was not a risk. His parents agreed with that assessment. The parents were advised that they are required to get him counseling within 48 hours or the school will contact Children’s Protective Services. They refused a request to take their son home for the day and left without him, apparently to return to work. He returns to the classroom rather than go “home to an empty house,” which the superintendent says is because he had no prior disciplinary infractions.
“He was, you know, called up to the office and all that kind of stuff,” the district’s School Superintendent Tim Throne said in a video statement. “No discipline was warranted. There are no discipline records at the high school.”
After Ethan went back to class, it was just three hours before he started to carry out his sick plan and the shooting began.
The shooting began to make media reports at around 1.15pm.
At 1:22 p.m., Jennifer texted her son, “Ethan don’t do it.”
And at 1:37 p.m., prosecutors say, James Crumbley, Ethan’s father called 911 to report a gun was missing from his house, and that he believed his son may be the shooter.
Ethan was arrested by police without incident and he was charged as an adult with one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Three students died at the time of the shooting –
Tate Myre (16)
Hanna St Julian (14)
Madisyn Baldwin (17)
Another student Justin Schilling (17) passed away in hospital on December 1.
This is a list of other injuries from the shooting:
– A 14-year-old boy suffered unspecified injuries.
A 15-year-old suffered a left leg gunshot wound.
A 17-year-old girl was shot in the neck.
A 17-year-old girl sustained a gunshot to the chest.
A 17-year-old boy was discharged Tuesday after being shot in the hip.
A 47-year-old teacher who was shot in her left shoulder.
In the days following the shooting, there were many copycat threats to other schools, nation wide.
Since this shooting event, over 20 students in Wayne County, Michigan alone have been charged with making threats.
“These are very serious charges and very serious incidents and we are investigating each and every one of them, and we’re going to hold folks accountable,” said Detroit Police Chief James White.
Media outlets started discussing the possibility that Jennifer and James may also be charged on December 2.
On that day, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald spoke again of her criticism of Crumbley’s parents, saying their actions went “far beyond negligence” and that a charging decision would come by Friday.
“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” Karen McDonald said. The gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”
At the time, many were discussing Michigan gun laws. There was no law in place that required parents to keep guns away from their children.
On December 3, the Michigan prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley. At the time, it was reported that the couple would be formally arraigned on the four charges, each of which carry 15 years in prison if convicted.
“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there were other individuals who contributed to the events of Nov. 30, and it is my intention to hold them accountable as well,” Prosecutor Karen McDonald said. “Gun ownership is a right, and with that right comes great responsibility.”
After the charges were announced, we waited for Jennifer and James to turn themselves in. And we waited and waited. Their attorney Shannon Smith spoke to the media on that day and said “They are making their way back here. They will be arraigned. They will be turned in,” They are not hiding. They are not running from anywhere. They’re not out on the lam. They are turning themselves in.”
This is a text exchange between the attorney and a detective working on the case:
Shannon Smith –They are terrified because they were expecting me to get info because Karen M told me she’d get back to me this morning. I do not know where they are but they assured me they are heading back and will call me so we can get them arraigned.
I was in trial all day … Mariell was flying back from a family trip to Florida so our whole day ended up being phone tag and at least 100 people texting us blowing up our phones.
My best guess from talking to them is that I’ll be texting you at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I wisht he media would chill out on this because it’s terrifying on top of a huge sad awful case. But I’ll text you in the AM. I have talked to them by phone several times tonight. The dads cell phone died and they have no way to charge it so some of the calling issues were due to that. But we have Jennifer’s number and THEY ARE COMING.”
Detective Hendrick (10:43 p.m.): Ok I understand they are scared but their best bet for a quiet surrender is to contact me.
Shannon Smith (10:44 p.m.): Thank you. I’ve told them it needs to be ASAP and they do get it.
Detective Hendrick (10:47 p.m.): I’m sure you realize the longer they hide the higher the bond request is going to be.
Shannon Smith (10:47 p.m.): Absolutely. I would have brought them in today but I couldn’t get any info fast enough. They initially asked if they could go in Monday am and Mariell and I said no. Today was also insane for me personally. I am selling my house and there was an open house today so my four kids, four dogs and cat were at my office while I was in trial. I’m not normally such a hot mess trying to coordinate things. We will get them in. They wouldn’t have paid us what they paid if they plan to run.
Turns out, that was a bald faced lie and the couple went on the run. They withdrew $4,000 from an ATM and turned their cell phones off.
A tipster called 911 on December 3 and reported to have seen Jennifer’s Kia. Police located the vehicle in Detroit later that night and began the search for Jennifer and James. Detroit is around 40 miles from Oxford.
Police located the couple in an art studio in Detroit. The studio is owned by Andrezej Sikora. Sikora became friends with Jennifer around 5 years ago when they both worked at a ski resort together.
Many questions if Sikora assisted the Crumbley’s in trying to escape. His attorney Clarence Dass spoke to the media “For a 65-year-old man who immigrated here in the 1990s only, this is something he never imagined he’d ever be dealing with. But he has come to terms with the fact that he got roped into this and has instead of hiding, embraced law enforcement and shared everything he knows with law enforcement,” Dass said.
After the shooting hit the news last week Tuesday, Dass told 7 Action News his client, “sent a text to Jennifer Crumbley and asked if she was safe. Didn’t know she was involved. Didn’t know her son was involved.”
Jennifer called Sikora on the Friday morning and the attorney said “She (said she) believed charges were going to be coming at some point on Friday, according to her lawyer, and wanted to be somewhere to avoid the press and the publicity that was going to come out of that situation. So, she asked if she could stay with her husband at that studio in Detroit for a few hours until they learn of charges.”
As far as I can tell, Sikora has not been charged with anything in relation to this case.
When Jennifer and James were finally taken into custody, they had $6,600 in cash, “more than a dozen credit cards and gift cards” and four phones with them.
We learned some more about their movements following the shooting:
Four hours after the shooting, at 4.42pm on 30 November, Jennifer texted a contact that “she needed to sell her horses fast”.
The Crumbley’s then ‘drained their son’s bank account” later that day, taking out $3,000 and leaving 99 cents. They reportedly checked into a hotel across the street from a police station the next morning. It was only “miles” away from the courthouse, Prosecutor Karen McDonald said. She added that at the hotel, the deliberation about selling the horses continued for a possible sum of $5,000.
They were supposed to turn themselves in on 3 December, but at 9am on 2 December, the prosecutor said $2,000 was removed from their bank account.
“Text messages and testimony will reveal that the Crumbleys expected to be criminally charged the next day,” Ms McDonald said. She added that the parents left the hotel at 9.30am on 3 December, leaving a car behind in the parking lot.
Jennifer finished the sale of the horses via text at around 10am. They took out another $4,000 that same day. Jennifer also got in touch with Sikora and told him they needed a ‘ place to sit.’
James and Jennifer were taken to the same jail where the son Ethan was being housed.
It has also since emerged that the couple put some of their belongings into storage, I guess in preparation for going on the run,.
Jennifer and James both cried during their hearing on December 5. They both pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Bond for each of them was set at $500k, cash surety with no 10% option. James shook his head when the prosecutor said their son had full access to the gun used in the killings.
Jennifer, James and Ethan were all separately placed in isolation on suicide watch. Ethan may not have even known that his parents were arrested at the time.
On December 7, it was announced that Ethan and his parents were basically estranged. They retained their own attorneys but refused to pay for legal representation for Ethan. The parents continue to be represented by the lawyers we mentioned earlier – Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman. Ethan was assigned a court appointed attorney – Paulette Michel Loftin.
Criminal defence attorney Bill Swor said James and Jennifer likely can’t afford to cover the costs of the 15-year-old’s expensive murder trial, especially when considering they too are facing up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
He commented: ‘In some ways, the parents have got a harder case than the kid. They’re adults and he’s a child, and the father bought the gun. The mother made the (social media) postings, and public officials… made public statements that are very prejudicial.’
Ethan has also been appointed a guardian by the court.
On December 9, survivors of the Oxford School Shooting lodged a $100 million federal lawsuit. This info is from the Detroit News –
The case filed by sisters Riley Franz, 17, an Oxford High School senior, and Bella Franz, 14, a freshman, marked the start of what is expected to be a flurry of lawsuits seeking to hold the district and school officials responsible for the Nov. 30 massacre that killed four students and wounded six others and a teacher. Riley was shot in the neck while next to Bella as they exited a restroom during the attack, according to Fieger.
That lawsuit accuses school officials of failing to stop an attack that inflicted physical and psychological injuries on students and spreads the blame among the highest-ranking Oxford school officials along with unidentified teachers and counselors.
“The horror of November 30, 2021, was entirely preventable,” said the siblings’ lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, adding a second $100 million lawsuit was forthcoming but did not release details.
Interestingly, Fieger also represented the family of Isaiah Shoels, who was killed in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, an event he said had many similarities to the shooting at Oxford High School. A judge eventually ordered Shoels’ family to accept a $366,000 settlement in the suit against the gunmen’s families.
Fieger acknowledged that Michigan’s governmental immunity laws make it difficult to sue school districts.
Meanwhile, Timothy J. Mullins, attorney for the Oxford school district, sent Fieger a letter on Thursday afternoon demanding him to retract allegations in the lawsuit against one of the persons named, saying the man has not worked at the district in more than a year and the allegations against him are false.
“It is this type of misrepresentation that has resulted in school employees receiving death threats,” Mullins said in the letter. “I insist you publicly retract this lie and apologize.”
There have also been allegations that the Oxford School District have been destroying evidence:
“It’s a lie … it’s disgusting,” said Mullins, stressing the school district has fully cooperated with authorities from the get go. “People think that the school district is withholding information? Everything that we have has been given to the prosecutor … everything they want we’ve given to them.”
In Mid December, James and Jennifer fronted court again together. James mouthed to her ‘ I love you’. Blergh.
On December 23, we got some more insight into the Crumbley family. Ethan’s dog had recently died and Jennifer had been having extra marital affair/s.
“The defendants had information long before Nov. 30 (six months prior to the shooting) that their son’s only friend moved at the end of October, that the family dog died, that their son was sadder than usual, and that he was sending his mother disturbing texts about his state of mind,” one filing said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun.”
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald outlined how Ethan “was torturing animals (and) even kept a baby bird’s head in a jar on his bedroom floor, which he later took and placed in a school bathroom.” But, she continued, “the parents were focusing on their own issues, things like extramarital affairs, financial issues and substance abuse.” The couple also spent up to three hours a night, three or four times a week, caring for their horses at a nearby barn, McDonald wrote.
The prosecutor also noted in her filing that Jennifer had told her boyfriend on the day of the shooting that the alleged murder weapon had been in her car.
Officials say Jennifer was having at least one affair and explicit images and videos were found on her phone.
I believe Jennifer and James are due again in court on February 8 for a preliminary hearing.
Ethan appeared in court on January 7, 2022 and he waived his right to a preliminary examination.
During the court session, Ethan confirmed that he received a waiver form, read it with his two attorneys, understood it, signed it, and was giving up his right to challenge the case using the lower probable cause threshold at this early stage in the proceedings against him. Judge Carniak said Ethan’s waiver meant that his case would be bound over to a circuit court judge for future proceedings.
This info is from Law and Crime:
Crumbley remains locked up in the Oakland County Jail, an adult facility, at the request of prosecutors who have argued multiple times that the defendant is a danger to the community. Defense attorneys have sought at a minimum to move Crumbley to the Oakland County Children’s Village, a juvenile facility. A guardian ad litem argued on Dec. 13, 2021, that Crumbley would “at least be in school” at the children’s village — a comment which prosecutors immediately rebutted as dubious given the charges that Crumbley killed four people at a school.
Defense attorney Paulette Loftin even called the school shooting “one, isolated incident” during an attempt last month to secure Crumbley’s transfer to the children’s village. “I honestly do not believe that my client should be considered a menace to other juveniles.”
During this court proceeding, we also learned some more about Ethan’s past.
In March 2021, he sent his mother multiple texts describing a demon or ghosts in the house. Jennifer would often take hours to reply. He also wrote several times about demons in his journal.
Ethan also bought a Nazi coin on Amazon that he displayed in this room, and drew Nazi symbols in a notebook shared by all members of the family.
Ethan had also been creating Molotov cocktails at the family residence; he searched school shootings and firearms so often on his phone that he received spam advertisements regarding his mental health & well-being.
In August 2021, he sent a video of himself holding his father’s loaded pistol; he sent it along with a message to his friend saying “it’s time to shoot up the school JK JK JK’.
The $100 million lawsuit that we spoke about earlier has been revised and new information has been added.
The 107-page lawsuit added 11 new counts against school officials in the wake of new information that has emerged.
This info is from USA Today
Nearly three weeks before Ethan Crumbley allegedly shot up Oxford High School, he brought a bird’s head to school in a mason jar filled with yellow liquid and left it on top of a toilet paper dispenser in the boy’s bathroom, according to new claims in a lawsuit.
School officials knew the sophomore had done this, the suit states, but told students and parents there was nothing to worry about.
Then he showed up with ammo.
On the day before the massacre, Ethan Crumbley brought bullets to class and had them out on full display — this in addition to researching ammunition on his cell phone that same day, a revised lawsuit states.
According to the school’s website, someone had dumped a severed deer’s head in a school courtyard on Nov. 4, and scrawled messages in red acrylic paint on the pool deck and various windows. Shortly thereafter, parents started complaining to the school principal about threats to students made on social media.
On Nov. 16, another email went out to parents.
“I know I’m being redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS,” the principal stated in the email, which was cited in the lawsuit. ” … Large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors.”
But Fieger’s lawsuit alleges that school officials had spotted troubling social media posts made by Ethan Crumbley prior to the shooting, in which he “threatened Oxford High School students.” And they knew about his “violent tendencies and ideations,” the suit states.
Yet despite knowing this, the suit alleges, the superintendent sent emails to parents “reassuring them that their children were safe,” discouraged parents and students “from reporting, sharing or discussing” threatening social media posts,” and went on the school intercom and warned students “to stop spreading information over social media.”
Ethan appeared in court on January 12 where he pleaded not guilty. His felony case now goes to Oakland County Circuit Court where was arraigned on the felony charges again. He had the option to enter a different plea, but a not guilty plea was again entered on his behalf by his attorney.
A very brief court hearing was held on January 18. I believe the purpose of this hearing was to determine if Ethan should be housed in an adult facility. This info is from Fox 2 Detroit:
During the very brief hearing, the judge in the case said that the hearing would be set for Feb. 22 and that both the defense and prosecution are to provide briefs to the court regarding whether either side consents to allowing media coverage of sensitive information in the case which will be due on Jan. 25.
Once both sides agreed, the court adjourned.
On January 18, Tim Throne, the Oxford Schools Superintendent released this statement:
Madisyn Baldwin lost her life on November. She was a 17 year old who her family describe as the ‘ light of so many people.’
Madisyn had just transferred to start at Oxford High School in the same year that she passed away.
“Very artsy, very smart, very intelligent, who was going very far in this world,” Tarah Baldwin told WXYZ.
Her family told a local news station that she was expected to graduate this year and had already been accepted to several schools, some with full ride scholarships.
They said Madisyn loved to draw, read and write.
Tate Myre (16) also lost his life in the Oxford School Shooting. He was a linebacker and tight end on the Oxford High football team.
According to the Oxford High football team, Myre was on varsity since his freshman year and was an honor student.
The team shared their loss on Twitter writing, “Tate was a great young man with a bright future and beloved by all.”
“Tate was and will always be a beaming light for Oxford. It’s hard to put into words what he meant to me, but he will hold a special place in my heart forever,” the team’s head coach, Zach Line, personally shared on Twitter. “God reaches down and touches certain people, he was one of those people.”
Posts shared online said Tate attempted to disarm the shooter and save other students during the incident.
There is an online petition that wants to get the school’s football stadium renamed after Tate. The petition reads, “Tate is not just a hero to his fellow students at Oxford high school but a legend, his act of bravery should be remembered forever and passed down through generations, he put his life in danger to try and help the thousands of other students at Oxford High School.”
Hana St. Juliana was the youngest victim at just 14 years old. She was considered a “beloved member of her school’s volleyball and basketball teams.
“We will never forget your kind heart, silly personality, and passion for the game. Since 6th grade camp you have stayed dedicated to Oxford Basketball, soaking in the game,” the basketball team wrote. “This season we play for you Hana.”
A close friend of the family told WXYZ in Detroit that Hana loved to babysit and be around kids and traditions with her family and friends that revolved around food. “She was kind and genuine to her core,” said the friend, Jennifer Curtis.
Justin Shilling (17) was a senior at Oxford and co-captain of the school’s bowling team.
In his free time, he worked at a local restaurant called Anita’s Kitchen.
“Justin was an exemplary employee, a devoted friend and co-worker, co-captain of his bowling team, and simply a pleasure to be around,” the restaurant wrote in a tribute on Facebook.