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Michigan school shooting suspect was sent to office but discipline not needed, official says

Person kneeling to pray at school shooting memorial site
A well-wisher kneels to pray at a memorial to the victims of a mass shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

A teenager accused of killing four fellow students at a Michigan high school was called to the office before the shooting but “no discipline was warranted,” the superintendent said Thursday in his first extended remarks since the tragedy.

Tim Throne, leader of Oxford Community Schools, said Oxford High School looks like a “war zone” and won’t be ready to reopen for weeks. He repeatedly credited students and staff for how they responded to Tuesday’s violence.

“To say that I am still in shock and numb is probably an understatement. These events that have occurred will not define us,” Throne, grim-faced and speaking slowly, said in a 12-minute video.

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Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism, for the shooting at the Oakland County school, about 30 miles north of Detroit.

“I want you to know that there’s been a lot of talk about the student who was apprehended, that he was called up to the office and all that kind of stuff. No discipline was warranted,” Throne said. “There are no discipline records at the high school. Yes, this student did have contact with our front office, and, yes, his parents were on campus Nov. 30.”

Throne said he couldn’t immediately release additional details. Sheriff Mike Bouchard has said Crumbley’s classroom behavior was a concern on the day of the shooting.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the authorities “anticipated a flood of false threats,” which are straining resources. The FBI and the Secret Service have joined to help assess claims, he said.

In his remarks, the superintendent said he was asking the sheriff’s office to publicly release school video from Tuesday.

“I want you to be as proud of your sons and daughters as I am,” Throne said.

Earlier Thursday, a prosecutor repeated her criticism of the suspect’s parents, saying that their actions went “far beyond negligence” and that a charging decision regarding the couple would come by Friday.

“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said. The gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”

Have we become so desensitized to gun violence that the mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan isn’t treated as front-page news?

Four students were killed and seven more people were injured in Tuesday’s shooting. Three of the wounded were in the hospital and stable.

The semiautomatic gun allegedly used by the teenage suspect was purchased legally by his father last week, according to investigators.

Parents in the U.S. are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children, even though most minors who shoot guns get them from a parent or relative’s house, according to experts.

There’s no Michigan law that requires gun owners to keep weapons locked away from children. McDonald, however, suggested that there was more evidence to build a case on.

If we respond to school shooting threats with criminal charges, it encourages silence when we need people to open up so shootings can be prevented.

“All I can say at this point is those actions on mom and dad’s behalf go far beyond negligence,” she told WJR-AM. “We obviously are prosecuting the shooter to the fullest extent. ... There are other individuals who should be held accountable.”

Jennifer and James Crumbley did not return a message left by the Associated Press.

The sheriff disclosed Wednesday that the parents met with school officials about their son’s classroom behavior just a few hours before the shooting.

He stayed in school Tuesday and later emerged from a bathroom with a gun, firing at students in the hallway, police said.

“Should there have been different decisions made?” McDonald said when asked about keeping the teen in school. “Probably they will come to that conclusion. … I have not seen anything that would make me think that there’s criminal culpability. It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy.”

William Swor, a defense lawyer who is not involved in the case, said charging the parents would require a “very fact-intensive investigation.”

“What did they know and when did they know it?” Swor said. “What advance information did they have about all these things? Did they know anything about his attitude, things of that nature? You’re talking about a very heavy burden to bring on the parents.”

Just over half of U.S. states have laws on preventing children’s access to guns, but they vary widely. Gun-control advocates say the laws are often not enforced and the penalties are weak.

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez is unable to participate in his criminal defense due to a gunshot wound suffered at the hands of law enforcement following his alleged rampage earlier this year that left four people dead.

In 2000, a man from the Flint, Mich., area pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison after a 6-year-old boy who was living with him found a gun in a shoebox and killed a classmate at school.

In 2020, the mother of an Indiana teen was placed on probation for failing to remove guns from her home after her mentally ill son threatened to kill students. He fired shots inside his school in 2018. No one was injured, but the boy killed himself.

In Texas, the parents of a student who was accused of killing 10 people at a school in 2018 have been sued over his access to guns.


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