A high school counselor and dean unknowingly gave an accused gunman a backpack containing the gun and magazine officials say he killed four people and injured seven in Oxford, Michigan, the last year, a lawyer representing the families of the victims said Thursday.
The exchange happened in the hours before the shooting, during a meeting where the suspect, then 15, was called in after a math teacher found a note card on his desk showing a gun, a bullet, and several disturbing phrases, including “blood everywhere” and “thoughts won’t stop,” attorney Ven Johnson told reporters.
Details of the swap come from depositions provided by school officials after several families sued the Oxford Community School District in federal court last year.
The lawsuit, seeking $100 million in damages, accused the district of gross negligence and argued the Nov. 30 shooting was “entirely preventable.”
During the meeting with Councilor Shawn Hopkins and Dean Nicholas Ejak, the student became “really worried” about missing chemistry class and asked for his homework and backpack, Johnson said.
Hopkins went to retrieve the bag, Johnson said. According to Hopkins’ testimony, Johnson said, the counselor commented on the weight of the backpack after the teacher gave it to him.
After returning to the meeting, Hopkins gave the bag to Ejak, who passed it to the teenager.
“None of them, by their testimony, even thought for a second to ask… ‘Hey man, show us what’s in there,'” Johnson said. cool.”
The suspect’s parents attended the meeting, and Hopkins told them that if they did not seek help for their son within 48 hours, he would report them to the local child protective services agency.
The student returned to class around 11 a.m. and is charged with opening fire just before 1 p.m., Johnson said.
Johnson said some school officials missed other red flags, including a Nov. 29 incident where the suspect’s teacher saw him looking at bullet footage on his phone.
After the teacher began reviewing her class work and noticed her interests “leaned towards the violent side,” Johnson said, she reported what she found to other school officials. , including Hopkins. Johnson said none of the officials appeared to have investigated the matter.
In another incident earlier in the year, Johnson said, the suspect’s Spanish teacher asked Hopkins to speak with his student over an autobiographical poem that said he felt “terrible and his family is an error”.
Hopkins followed up with the teacher, who said she was no longer worried because she believed the student was talking about homework, not her life, Johnson said.
A lawyer for Hopkins and Ejak did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. In a court filing, lawyers for the school denied the allegations in the families’ lawsuit and described some of them as inaccurate.
The teenager has pleaded not guilty to two dozen charges, including murder, in the shooting. His parents were also charged with manslaughter. They also pleaded not guilty.