A 15-year-old suspect in the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan that left four students dead and seven others injured was charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder and other charges, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said Wednesday.
At a press conference where she expressed condolences to friends and family of the victims, McDonald named the suspect, Ethan Crumbley, just once.
In addition to charging him with four counts of murder for the deaths of students, Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Julian, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 15; Crumbley was also charged with one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
McDonald said there remains a lot of evidence to review and more charges could be forthcoming before explaining why they made the decision to charge Crumbley as an adult.
“First the seriousness of the crime this person committed under Michigan law. There are crimes that the Legislature says is so serious that a person who commits them can automatically be charged as an adult. First-degree murder is the most serious of all those crimes,” she said.
McDonald added that “there are facts leading up to this shooting that suggest this was not just an impulsive act.”
“Those facts are not appropriate for discussion right now because it could affect the prosecution of this case,” she said.
Some of those facts might be related to concerns being raised by the school community as early as Nov. 4 when someone threw the head of a deer into a locked courtyard at the school while on the roof, as noted in a letter from Oxford High School Principal Steve Wolf, stating there was “no threat on campus.”
“Before school began this morning we identified graffiti on the cement outside our pool entrance doors. We immediately notified security, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office and our custodial staff. This vandalism was created by an individual with red acrylic paint very early this morning and did not contain any threats or any concerning messages,” Wolf wrote.
“Security personnel reviewed camera footage and confirmed this person did not gain access into the building, as OHS is locked and secure. Unfortunately, this person did throw the head of a deer into a locked/inaccessible courtyard while on the roof. The deer was from a nearby location off-campus, likely struck from a vehicle prior to today … With the help from the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, we did identify and locate the suspect. At this time, this is a police investigation and we can assure our students, staff and parents the suspect is not a threat to our building,” the letter added.
Concerns were also raised in a Nov. 12 letter about troubling social media posts about Oxford High School.
An alleged screenshot of Crumbley’s now deactivated page on Instagram appears to threaten Oxford with death.
In an interview with ABC 7, Oxford High School student Treshan Bryant said while he didn’t know Crumbley personally, he knew he was being bullied.
“I've seen him around the school. He's a kid, he's been picked on and stuff like this. And when a kid has been picked on, people bullying him, you're going to get this,” he said. “You're going to get this reaction.”
In capping off her reasons for charging Crumbley as an adult, McDonald said it was about public safety.
“Charging this person as an adult is necessary to achieve justice and protect the public,” she said. “Any other option would put all of us at risk of this person because they could be released and still a threat.”
The video below shows the suspect when he was a child.