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School wanted suspect shooter to leave campus prior to shooting; parents refused

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald revealed new information about the case Friday, including the disturbing notes found the morning of the shooting.
Credit: AP
Students stand at the sign of Oxford High School where memorial items are being placed in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school, killing several students and wounding multiple other people, including a teacher. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. — A press conference held by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald Friday revealed new details about the fatal shooting at Oxford High School.

The shooting happened Tuesday afternoon, leaving four people dead and seven others wounded, including a teacher. Law enforcement responding to the shooting apprehended the suspect within three minutes of their arrival, taking him into custody without incident.

The school was placed on lockdown after the attack, with some children sheltering in locked classrooms while officers searched the premises. They were later taken to a nearby Meijer grocery store to be picked up by their parents.

RELATED: Authorities: Student kills 4, wounds 7 with father's gun at east Michigan high school

The victims who died have been identified as Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.

In the conference, McDonald announced that the parents of 15-year-old gunman Ethan Crumbley have each been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. 

While charges against parents in school shooting cases are rare, McDonald said the facts in this case are "so egregious" that the charges were warranted.

"There was absolute reason to believe that this individual was dangerous and disturbed," she said. 

RELATED: Parents of Oxford shooting suspect charged with involuntary manslaughter

McDonald said that the suspect's father, James, purchased the gun used in the shooting on Nov. 26, just four days before the shooting. It was confirmed that Ethan had accompanied James, but James had said the gun was going to be his own.

Shortly after the gun was purchased, McDonald said photos of the weapon were posted to Ethan's social media with the caption, "Just got my new beauty today." His mother, Jennifer, also posted to her social media, referring to the gun as Ethan's "new Christmas present."

On Nov. 29, the day before the shooting, one of Ethan's teachers reported that he was seen searching for ammunition during class. While the school reached out to his parents, there was no response to discuss the behavior.

McDonald said that Jennifer had messaged Ethan, saying that she wasn't mad at him for looking at ammunition during class, but that he had to "learn not to get caught."

RELATED: 'Stop The Silence': MSP reminds community of confidential tip resource following Oxford school shooting

On the morning of the shooting, a teacher reported that a note was found on Ethan's desk with disturbing drawings. McDonald said that the note featured a semiautomatic handgun pointed at the words, "The thoughts won't stop, help me."

The note also had a drawing of a bullet with the phrase "Blood everywhere" written above it, as well as a drawing of a person appearing to have been shot and bleeding.

The note also included the phrases, "My life is useless" and "The world is dead."

After the note was reported, Ethan and his parents were called to the school's office to discuss it. By the time the meeting happened, McDonald said the note had been altered.

At the meeting, a school counselor advised James and Jennifer to enroll Ethan in counseling within 48 hours. McDonald says the parents failed to ask Ethan where the gun was and did not inspect his backpack for the weapon.

RELATED: U-M expert: Preventing a school shooting | 'Secure firearms in home, help students and staff recognize distress signs'

When they were encouraged to remove Ethan from school that day, McDonald says James and Jennifer resisted, and Ethan was sent back to his class.

Authorities say the shooting occurred later that day just before 1 p.m.

McDonald says that when Jennifer heard about an active shooter at the school, she sent a text to Ethan at 1:22 p.m. reading, "Ethan, don't do it."

When James heard about an active shooter at the school, he called 911 at 1:37 p.m. to report that his gun was missing from his house and that his son may be the shooter.

RELATED: 'Stop The Silence': MSP reminds community of confidential tip resource following Oxford school shooting

McDonald confirmed that the owner of the gun shop where the weapon was purchased is not under investigation. It was not made clear if James and Jennifer would be taken into custody Friday.

“We need to do better in this country," McDonald said. "We need to say enough is enough, for our kids, our teachers, our parents, for all of us in this community and communities across the nation.”

Ethan was charged this week as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder and terrorism. He pled not guilty in court Wednesday. He will be transferred to an adult corrections center, where he will stay in isolation. 

The investigation into this incident is still underway. 

Watch the full press conference here:

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