Ethan Crumbley, the teen who is accused of shooting and killing four schoolmates at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, had earlier that day convinced school officials that his violent drawings and related written statements came about as he was developing a video game, and that he hoped to pursue video game design as a career.
Superintendent Tim Thorne, of Oxford [Michigan] Community Schools, has sent out a letter to the Oxford High School community on Saturday setting out a view of the timeline that seems designed, in essence, to absolve the school of responsibility for the deaths of four students and the injuries to seven others (six students, one teacher.)
Clarification on the subject of these drawings is an important piece of the overall investigation. It is critical to establishing the timeline of the hours before Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old student, opened fire.
On Monday, Nov. 29, a teacher saw the teen who is now the Oxford shooting suspect using his cellphone during class to look at ammunition. That resulted in a meeting involving Crumbley, a counselor, and another staff member. At that meeting, Ethan Crumbley said that he and his mother had recently gone to a shooting range and that “shooting sports are a family hobby.”
School officials left a voicemail and sent an email to Ethan Crumbley’s mother Jennifer. She later texted her son, saying, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” That email helped make its sender a suspect. It is now part of the evidence in the criminal case against both of Ethan’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, for negligent homicide.
During the following school day, Nov. 30, another red flag appeared. A teacher noticed a note on Ethan Crumbley’s desk with a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun and the words, “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.” Nearby there was the drawing of a bullet with the words “Blood everywhere” above it. there was a third of these disturbing drawings: a bleeding person who seemed to have two bullet wounds and, nearby, a laughing emoji.
Ethan Crumbley was removed from the classroom immediately and his parents were called to the school. It was at this point, while staff and Crumbley were waiting the arrival of the parents, that Crumbley explained to the teachers his fascination with video games as a career path, and his interest in drawings, even violent drawings, that illustrate how such a game might play out.
Crumbley appeared composed and rational during this period. In the words of Superintendent Throne: “At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm,” Throne said.
When his parents showed up, counselors “asked specific and probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others,” according to Throne. The answers that all three of the Crumbleys gave led the counselors to believe there was no threat of violence, to himself or to others, Throne said.
When his parents flatly refused to take him home, and then left the meeting, apparently headed to their respective places of employment, Ethan Crumbley was returned to class. Throne says that this decision was made in part due to the absence of any disciplinary record. A classroom was deemed a more appropriate place for him than “an empty house.”
The shooting began at around 12:50 p.m. Ethan Crowley walked into a bathroom with his backpack on, and then walked out of it with a 9 mm Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol in his hand.
On Nov. 26, James Crowley had purchased a Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol from Acme Shooting Goods in Oxford.
Now the town is left with many disturbing questions: Was this shooting spree planned? Why wasn’t Ethan Crumbley suspended? And should Oxford High School be held liable?
This is an ongoing investigation. We will continue to update you as the story develops.