A community is in mourning after a shooting at Oxford High School on Nov. 30 left four students dead and seven others, including a teacher, injured.
"It’s chilling. It’s absolutely cold-hearted, murderous. Our forensic team was working all night. So far, I believe they’ve recovered over 30 shell casings. We believe he fired over 30 shots," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, were killed when officials say a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire with a 9mm pistol late in the noon hour in the south end of the school. The next day, police said 17-year-old Justin Shilling also died from his injuries.
Students report it was right at the start of fifth hour when they heard the first shots fired.
The calls came in rapidly; the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said they had in excess of 100 calls to 911 as the shooting was unfolding.
Students told 7 Action News they heard an ALICE warning over the intercom after the first rounds were fired. ALICE is a training program for students and schools and it’s an acronym. It stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
“We kept hearing ALICE LOCKDOWN, ALICE LOCKDOWN ... I was just scared. I was praying for my safety, my friends’ safety, everyone’s safety,” said one student.
“I just kept thinking it’s probably a suspicious person walking campus, they’ll get them in a minute and it’ll be over,“ said another student. “In various group chats, I start to get messages saying ‘this person got shot, that person got shot,’ and immediately I was like, ‘OK this is real.’”
Some students said they armed themselves with scissors in case they needed to fight back, and barricaded doors in their classrooms with stacked chairs. The suspected shooter reportedly tried to get through some of them, firing through classroom doors.
Within minutes after the first calls, deputies responded along with a police liaison stationed at the school.
“As they were coming down the hall, they saw him, he put his hands up, they took his gun and took him into custody," Bouchard said during an evening press conference.
The sheriff’s office said the suspected shooter still had seven rounds of ammunition in his gun when he was apprehended. Police would later find more than 30 shell casings. "I believe they literally saved lives," said Bouchard of the first responders. He noted that Oakland County had really put a focus on active shooter training prior to the events at Oxford High School.
While the school was still an active scene, an emergency notice went out to the Oxford school community, and families soon began to head to the Meijer down the street on N. Lapeer to reunite with their loved ones.
A mother, who was reunited with her child at Meijer, said, “I was scared, I have never been so scared in my life, and when I came to Meijer, I ran to him and he picked me up and gave me the biggest hug of my life.”
But after the suspect was in custody, there were 11 victims who didn’t make it to the Meijer down the street.
LIVES CHANGED FOREVER
Tate, Hana, Madisyn and Justin are being remembered by the community.
"They were amazing people with many talents. With so many talents,” said student Ella Gilling, a junior at Oxford High School during an evening mass for the victims at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Orion Tuesday evening.
Tate played football for Oxford High School and had recently visited the University of Toledo, according to a tweet sent on Nov. 28.
Oxford Football paid tribute to Tate writing, "It is with great grief that one of the victims of the tragic event at OHS today was one of our own, Tate Myre. Tate was on varsity since his freshman year and was an honor student. Tate was a great young man with a bright future and beloved by all. You will be missed, Tate. Tate was a wonderful young man who was tremendously hardworking and respectful. He was a tremendous football player with the brightest of futures and was an even better young man off the field as he was on it. We all loved Tate and he will so very much be missed."
We're told that Hana was a volleyball and basketball player.
"She was kind and genuine to her core. She loved to babysit and to be with kids. She loved to help people. She was just one of the best kids I've ever known," said Jennifer Curtis, a close friend of Hana's family.
Tate was also an honor student, and Justin was a co-captain of the Oxford Bowling Team and was a golfer.
"The loss of Justin leaves such a gaping hole in our family that we cannot conceive of life without him. Our hearts are broken and yet still go out to the other families suffering this very same loss at this very same moment and which is beyond imagination, nothing any family should have to endure," a statement from the family reads.They said Shilling was also an organ donor, continuing to give of himself even in death.
The full statement:
We're told Madisyn was a talented artist and a big sister.
"She was just the light of so many people. This is just unimaginable. Unimaginable," said Madisyn's aunt Tarah Baldwin.
Bouchard said he was at the scene most of Tuesday night.
“The evidence I’ve seen there shows he was very clearly trying to kill people,” he said. The sheriff said he’s watched some video of the actual shooting, noting the suspect was shooting people at close range and mostly toward the head or chest.
Seven other victims, including one teacher, were injured in the shooting. Their ages range from 14 to 47 years old,and all but three have been discharged from the hospital.
“Our school community will need everyone’s most sincere support during this tragic time,” read a letter from Oxford Community Schools in the aftermath of the deadly shooting.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stood with other officials at an update Tuesday afternoon, calling the shooting “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald announced charges against the suspect on Wednesday. He was identified as 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley.
McDonald said he is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, 12 counts of possession of a firearm while committing a felony and one count of terrorism causing death. He is being charged as an adult and was tranferred from Children's Village to the Oakland County Jail.
On Friday, McDonald announced charges against the suspected shooter's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley. They are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
“Gun ownership is a right and with that right comes great responsibility,” said McDonald.
Police say James and Jennifer Crumbley were taken into custody on Detroit's east side early Saturday morning. They each pleaded not guilty to the charges and the judge set a $500,000 bond, no 10%, for both of them.
WHAT WAS KNOWN?
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald revealed what happened in the days leading up to the deadly Oxford High School shooting as she announced charges against the suspected shooter’s parents on Friday afternoon.
Officials say the gun used in the Nov. 30 attack was purchased by James Crumbley four days prior with his son present.
The suspect’s mother reportedly posted about the firearm on social media, saying, “Mom and son day, testing out his new Xmas present.”
The suspect also reportedly posted about the pistol, saying he got “my new beauty today.”
McDonald revealed that the day prior to the shooting, the suspect was reportedly searching for ammunition on his phone in class – when a teacher noticed. A call and email reportedly went out to Jennifer about the incident, which were initally unanswered, according to the prosecutor.
McDonald said Jennifer later texted her son about the incident, saying “LOL, I’m not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught.”
The following day, the day of the shooting on Nov. 30, the prosecutor says the suspect was discovered drawing a disturbing note in class. The drawings reportedly worried the teacher. McDonald said the suspect had drawn a gun pointing at the words, “the thoughts won’t stop, help me” along with a drawing of a bullet with the words, “blood everywhere” and a drawing of a person who appeared to be shot twice near a laughing emoji and the words “my life is useless.”
It was then the prosecutor said the suspect was called into a meeting with his parents at the school. At that time, McDonald said the suspect had already altered parts of the drawing. The parents were reportedly advised to get counseling for their son within 48 hours.
It was after that meeting that the suspect returned to class. The prosecutor said the parents failed to ask the suspect if he had the gun with him and failed to check his backpack.
“Of course he shouldn’t have gone back to that classroom,” said McDonald at the press conference.
Just a short time later, the shooting would unfold, leaving four people dead and seven injured. Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17, lost their lives in the shooting.
The prosecutor said around 1:22 p.m. that day, Jennifer texted her son, “Ethan, don’t do it.”
About 10 minutes later, James reportedly called 911 to report a gun missing from their home. It was stored in an unlocked drawer in their bedroom, McDonald said.
“We need to do better in this country, we need to say enough is enough,” said the prosecutor.
Over the weekend, Oxford Community Schools superintendent Tim Throne released a letter to the community detailing the school's version of events. You can read it below:
Bouchard is encouraging the community to speak up if they hear or see anything at any time.
He said anyone can submit a tip to 248-858-4911 or email OCSO@oakgov.com.
HONORING THE VICTIMS
Thousands of people attended a vigil in Oxford on Dec. 3 to remember the four students killed in the shooting: Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling.
School officials closed all of the schools in the district, including OELC, for the rest of that week.
A 24/7 Resource and Crisis Helpline/Text/Chat is available for anyone who would like to speak with someone about the day's events. That number is 1-800-231-1127.
For parents who are trying to help their children navigate the pain, or students who don't know who or where to turn to for help, Pastor Curt Demoff of Bridgewood Church in Clarkston says they have grief counselors available as well.
"The next steps in these next few days will be very critical for them to not be paralyzed with fear, anxiety or stress," Demoff said.
Below are resources aimed at helping families navigate the difficult and necessary conversations surrounding the shooting tragedy:
"Pray for our families here in Oxford and our students," said Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne.