OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — The single most important prosecution in the history of the county and state, that’s how the Oakland County prosecutor says she is viewing the tragic case of the deadly Oxford High School shooting on November 30. She feels it’s her responsibility to get justice for victims.
WXYZ-TV reporter Simon Shaykhet talked one-on-one with Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in an exclusive interview about breaking ground in the prosecution and her mission to make schools safer. Prosecutor Karen McDonald says her decisions in the case of the deadly Oxford High School shooting are not only meant to get accountability but also lead to change and safer schools. She discussed the mass shooting at the school that resulted in the deaths of four students and others being injured.
Pictured: Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling, the four students killed in the Oxford High School shooting
Prosecutor McDonald is opening up about up about taking bold action in her criminal prosecution. She says charging 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley with terrorism, four counts of premeditated murder and more counts of assault with intent to murder simply weren’t enough when considering his parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, bought him a gun but failed to disclose it to counselors in a meeting the morning of the tragedy.
When asked if it was criminal at the meeting that morning at the school when the parents failed to mention Ethan had access to a gun when was drawing disturbing images, the prosecutor replied; “Certainly that’s a big event that landed on the side of absolutely they are criminally culpable. But it was a series of events taken as whole that are absolutely criminal I believe. If parents disclosed he has access to a gun, to the extent he did, those four children would still be alive. I am certain of it. It is absolutely not just a failure to secure a firearm purchased for that individual with access to it.” McDonald says she supports the concept of tougher rules pertaining to responsible storage of guns but not to be confused with being against gun ownership.
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By taking the step of charging the Crumbleys she hopes more parents will consider how they store their guns. “I hope absolutely this never happens again, I hope nobody ever has to look at a parent's face after they’ve lost a child, because they went to school.” McDonald tells us she personally toured the crime scene, met with family of the victims, and recalls their conversations being among the most difficult she’s ever had.
That is part of why she says she’ll be leading efforts in the courtroom herself rather than watching from the sidelines.
“I am not going to look in the eyes of those parents and see that pain, and then go back to my office and go about my business. It’s keeping my word I’m going to be transparent and involved. Making sure people know what really happened here.” As for recent steps taken by Attorney General Dana Nessel, who’s also committed to meeting with those involved to prevent future tragedies, McDonald supports the move.
In addition, her office is pledging to prosecute copycat threats that have been disrupting countless school districts in the wake of the tragedy. “We need to do everything we can in this office and everywhere so that kids feel safe going to school,” said prosecutor McDonald.
McDonald has a message for every single student, parent and staff member who felt terror on that day: “We looked at the facts and charged the appropriate charges against the shooter. But, what about all the hundreds of kids hiding under their desks and sending their parents text messages because they never thought they’d see them again?”
So far, McDonald is not saying if she potentially could be charging anyone else. She says her focus remains on the cases already underway.