Some teachers and a counselor at a Michigan high school knew of a teenager’s disturbing interest in guns and violence months before he was charged with shooting and killing four students and ‘have hurt others,’ a lawyer representing the families of the victims said Thursday.
“From literally the start of school, Ethan Crumbley had been showing signs of being a very troubled individual, to say the least,” Detroit attorney Ven Johnson said, citing depositions taken from the courtroom. part of a civil lawsuit against Oxford Community Schools and certain staff at Oxford High School. .
Crumbley, now 16, will stand trial next year as an adult on murder and other charges in the November 30 shooting.
A teacher said Crumbley drew what appeared to be an ammunition magazine on a note card in late August 2021. Crumbley also replied in a survey that his favorite books included “Making Bombs for Hitler”, while “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad” were among his favorite TV shows.
About a week later, he wrote in an autobiographical poem assignment for a Spanish teacher that he “feels bad and his family is a mistake,” Johnson quoted from an email the teacher sent to a school counselor.
The teacher who received the note card said in her deposition that she only saw the drawing the day before the shooting. There was apparently no follow-up to the Spanish teacher’s email in September asking the adviser to contact Crumbley, Johnson said.
Prosecutors said Crumbley used a semi-automatic handgun to open fire on other teenagers in the hallway of the school about 50 miles north of Detroit. The four students who were killed were Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.
Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were charged with manslaughter and pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors accuse the couple of failing to keep the weapon used in the shooting safe at home and failing to take reasonable care of their son when he showed signs of mental distress.
The day before the shooting, a teacher saw Ethan Crumbley looking at ammunition on his phone while in class. School officials left a voicemail telling her mother about it.
On the morning of the shooting, Crumbley’s parents were summoned to school and confronted with his drawings, which included a handgun and the words: “Thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” Authorities said the parents refused to take him home after the 13-minute meeting and were told to counsel him.
Several parents attending Johnson’s press conference in Detroit on Thursday said they were unaware of some of the details revealed in the depositions.
“I see no excuse for not taking these red flags very seriously,” said Jill Soave, mother of Justin Shilling. “We learn all these months later that it could have been avoided. These children should be with us today. There are no excuses. Anyone with any kind of common sense could piece together the pieces that something was seriously wrong.
William Myre, Tate Myre’s father, accused the school district of withholding information that could have been used to prevent the shooting.
“Meanwhile, we are buying memorial shirts here for our murdered child,” he said, holding up a blue T-shirt. “What do Oxford Community Schools do? Nothing. Nothing.”
Schools Superintendent Ken Weaver said Thursday the district has been cooperating with the criminal investigation into the shooting.
“We are also cooperating fully with the civil litigation process and will continue to do so,” Weaver said in a statement. “I remain confident that the school board’s multiple investigations, lawsuits and third-party review will bring all the facts to light and create the full transparency and accountability of events that our community wants and deserves.”
Johnson filed a civil lawsuit earlier this year against the school district. He also names the dean of students at Oxford High School, two counselors and three teachers as defendants.