While school shootings remain rare, there have been more in 2021 than in any year since at least 1999, according to a Washington Post database that tracks acts of gun violence on K-12 campuses during regular school hours.Tuesday’s shooting in Oxford was the deadliest school shooting in more than three years. Oxford High School student 16-year-old Tate Myre was one of the four teenagers killed when student Ethan Crumbley, opened fire at the school. Tate Myre laid down his life for other students when he attempted to disarm Crumbley, according to witness reports. 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana shared a heart breaking text exchange where she told her father she loved him and he was the best dad before her tragic death. 17-year old Madisyn Baldwin, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling were also killed, and 8 other students were injured. Then the rest of the entire staff and student body have lasting deep emotional damage. A mountain of evidence suggests the shooting was planned, though that will be for the court of law to ultimately decide. In response to the horrific incident many are calling for tighter gun control laws. This situation, at least from the outside, seems to be less an issue of gun control and more an issue of mental health awareness and knowing what your kids are doing in general.
Evidence Suggests Crumbley Planned the Shooting
Evidence that suggests Crumbley planned the shooting in advance includes a video law enforcement officials say he made the night before the shooting that detailed his plan for killing students. A journal was also recovered from his backpack that detailed his desire to “shoot up the school,” officials said. Law enforcement officials said a social media post on Crumbley’s page showed the gun used in the attack. It was purchased just four days before the shooting, by Crumbley’s father, investigators said. The night before the attack 15-year year old Crumbley changed his Instagram bio to “‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ See you tomorrow Oxford.”
What Happened During the Shooting?
Investigators said the suspect walked into a school bathroom around 12:50 local time Tuesday with a backpack and walked out with a gun in hand. He then walked down the hallway “aiming the firearm at students and firing,” officials added. Senior Mitchell Williams fled his classroom as soon as he heard the gunshots. “It was horrific. It was really startling, hearing everyone come out and not knowing where the gunshots would be next,” said Williams. “It’s really sad and no one really knows what to do because of it and it’s something that should have never happened.”
A video which has surfaced on social media since the shooting shows one student saying Crumbley was “living up to his word.” Which makes us question: If people knew Crumbley was planning this type of event, why didn’t the school do more to prevent it? Another video that has surfaced on social media shows a classroom full of students and someone, allegedly Crumbley, is at the door of the classroom asking to be let in, claiming to be the sheriff’s office. During the exchange the person on the outside of the classroom used the word “bro,” which raised a red flag with students. The students in the classroom decided not to let the person in, but rather exit from what looks to be either a large window or glass classroom door located opposite the threat, running to the safety of the REAL sheriff’s office.
What Happens to Crumbley Now?
Michigan prosecutors acknowledge their decision to file a terrorism charge was not a usual charge filed during school schootings. “It’s not a usual, typical charge,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said Wednesday. She explained that Crumbley would be charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, as well as one count of “terrorism causing death.”
The terrorism charge was chosen to address the harm caused to those who suffered from the violent rampage but who were not killed or injured. “The children [who were killed] and those that were injured, they are the victims in the first-degree murder charges and the assault with intent to murder, but what about all these other children? What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks?” McDonald said at a news conference. “What about all the children at home right now who can’t eat and can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they could ever set foot back in that school? Those are victims, too, and so are their families, and so is the community. And the charge of terrorism reflects that.” Terrorism is not the only unusual charge the prosecutor’s office has considered as part of this case.
Crumbley’s Parents Possibly Facing Charges
Officials have said that Crumbley’s father bought the semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting four days before-hand, last friday. It is currently unclear how Crumbley obtained the gun from his father. McDonald says “gun owners have a responsibility to secure their weapons, particularly when young people are involved. Prosecutors will make a decision soon on whether to charge Ethan Crumbley’s parents.” Could such charges, though rare, be warranted in a case like this? After all, with the mountain of evidence that suggests the shooting was planned and even openly spoken about well in advance, this is an issue of not being aware of what your child is doing or getting them the help they clearly needed. Isn’t knowing what your child is doing online, how their mental health is, and addressing troubling behaviors that are brought to your attention, your number one responsibility as a parent?
The school had a meeting with Crumbley’s parents the same morning the shooting occurred, according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “We have since learned that the school did have contact with the student the day before and the day of the shooting for behaviors in the classroom that they felt was concerning,” he said. “In fact, the parents were brought in the morning of the shooting and had a face-to-face meeting with the school. The content of that meeting of course is part of the investigation.” Why did the school allow him to be in school if he had openly made these threats? This is clearly a case of negligence on behalf of the adults involved in the life of a young man who was clearly very troubled, and needed help. This does not in any way excuse his actions, he knew right from wrong, it is sad he was troubled and needed help but that does not excuse his actions. However, we have to look at these facts in order to prevent an event like this shooting from occuring due to adults not getting troubled children the proper help.
Schools Close Due to Copycat threats
Many schools have closed Thursday, Dec. 2 in response to numerous reports of threats of violence spreading across social media. Sheriff’s deputies were in multiple schools Wednesday, Dec. 1 investigating “copycat” threats, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a Wednesday news conference. “There’s some weird anomaly where every time something happens like this in the country there’s a whole bunch of copycat threats and texts and pictures, and it really burdens law enforcement all across the nation,” Bouchard said. This shows that other students who may be bullied, as some outlets suggest Crumbley was, or just have a desire to be seen in some way, may abuse these types of tragedies to gain a feeling of power. Something that needs to be addressed through some form of mental health help, otherwise could lead to major social issues in the future.
Colorado has been no stranger to school shootings, or even more recently, violence in and around high schools in Aurora. This violence resulted in enhanced security measures and mental health resources. Colorado seems to realize the issue does not lay within gun control, but in the declining mental health of today’s youth. Today’s youth finds themselves in a set of weird and extreme circumstances. It should not be a shock that those extreme circumstances are breeding mental health issues and personality disorders. The issue is not within tighter gun control laws, the issue is we don’t address the mental health of teenagers until it is too late.
Written by: Erinn Malloy