By Grace Tolla
On November 30th, 2021, a fifteen-year old high school sophomore named Ethan Crumbley fatally shot four of his peers and wounded several others including two teenagers and one teacher at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit, Michigan. The students who lost their lives were Madisyn Baldwin (17), Justin Shilling (17), Tate Myre (16) and Hana St. Juliana (14).
The gun used had been bought by Crumbley’s father, James, at a store in Oxford. After receiving it as a gift, the student posted a picture on social media with the caption “Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9MM.” His mother, Jennifer, also took to social media, with the caption “mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present,” in reference to visiting a shooting range the weekend before the incident.
After his cellphone was searched, it was found that Ethan Crumbley had exhibited many signs of malicious intent, and had carefully planned the shooting, trying to harm as many people as possible. That Monday, Crumbley was caught googling information about ammunition at school. When learning of this, his mother responded saying, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” according to the New York Times. Other signs include videos on his phone and a journal with violent details against other students. On Tuesday morning, a teacher found a concerning drawing on his desk, which had a picture of a gun and said “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” A meeting was held with the parents about concerns of violence, but the adults allowed Crumbley to return to class, unaware of the gun in his backpack.
“I think that the parents being charged is the right thing to do, they are just as guilty as the son because they knew his mental state and what he was capable of with the weapons he possessed. The school definitely fell short with letting him stay, and it’s almost a point of misogyny, because girls can be sent home for inappropriate attire when he was allowed to stay while clearly unstable. He was allowed to stay, and in that last moment, people’s lives were affected. I feel that even though constantly taking precautions is annoying, we are desensitized to it and it’s just becoming a part of our normal day at school. We have to take threats seriously, because of stuff like this,” said Julieta Kuri (‘23).
Later that afternoon, Crumbley can be seen on video camera footage entering the bathroom with his backpack, and leaving minutes later with a gun in hand, and no bag. Several students reported having heard the gunshots as Crumbley made his way down the hallways and fired shots in various classrooms. The student who called 911 to report the emergency had to whisper to stay silent, limiting their information to less than a sentence. Ethan Crumbley was arrested within minutes of the police officers’ arrival, and was taken into custody.
Half an hour after the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son “Ethan don’t do it”. Fifteen minutes after that text was sent, James Crumbley, his father, called the authorities to report that a gun was missing from his house, and he believed that the Oxford High School shooter was his son.
Graphic by Anika Tandon
Student-shot footage of people exiting the building has been discovered on the app, Tiktok, filmed by Ayden Sanders (@aydensanders_ on Tiktok), receiving millions of views. The comment sections have been flooded with young people mourning the loss of the victims. People all over the world have expressed their condolences, and shared opinions on matters such as the school’s failure to prevent the tragedy, as well as overall gun control.
“There were multiple steps that the school neglected to follow, especially with the behavioral issues that were present and even shown in the beginning of school day, like with the meeting they had with the kid’s parents, and this pure neglect from the administration of the school creates a lot of unease for other high schoolers, because it was a totally preventable situation that was just not handled properly,” said Meghan McLaughlin (‘23).
Ethan Crumbly is being charged as an adult, with four counts of first degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent of murder, one count of terrorism causing death, and twelve counts of possessing a firearm while commiting a felony. He is being held without bond in Oakland County Jail. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, went missing on Friday afternoon of that week. They were hunted by the F.B.I and United States Marshals, and were found in a commercial building in Detroit, on Saturday morning after a tip was given. The couple is now pleading not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter, and are also being held in Oakland County Jail, awaiting trial and facing up to sixty years in prison if found guilty of all counts. Despite this, there has been a lot of debate over whether or not James and Jennifer Crumbley should be punished for the actions of their son.
Issues like this bring up the question of whether or not other schools, including Westhill, are doing enough to protect and prevent the same thing from happening. Many people agree that the loss of the four students at Oxford High School was partially the fault of the administration’s failure to take the warning signs seriously.
“I don’t exactly have much faith or doubt in the school, I haven’t been at Westhill long enough to understand the community, but everyone I’ve met seems very aware and has someone looking out for them, I feel like there’s always someone that each person has, if not another student then a teacher,” said Teo Boruchin (‘23).