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3rd Party to Probe Oxford's Actions    12/05 08:47

   

   PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- A third party will investigate events at Oxford High 
School that occurred before a school shooting that left four students dead and 
six other students and a teacher wounded, the Michigan district's 
superintendent said.

   Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne said in a statement that 
he called for the outside investigation because parents have asked questions 
about "the school's version of events leading up to the shooting." He also 
elaborated on interactions with the student leading up to the shooting.

   "It's critically important to the victims, our staff and our entire 
community that a full and transparent accounting be made," Throne said.

   His comments came after a news conference Friday by Oakland County 
Prosecutor Karen McDonald that detailed numerous warning signs from the student 
charged in the shooting: His search for gun ammunition on a cellphone, and a 
drawing that showed a bullet with the words "blood everywhere" above a person 
who appears to have been shot along with "my life is useless" and "the world is 
dead."

   "Of course, he shouldn't have gone back to that classroom. ... I believe 
that is a universal position. I'm not going to chastise or attack, but yeah," 
McDonald said. Asked if school officials may potentially be charged, she said: 
"The investigation's ongoing."

   On Tuesday at the school, roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit, 
the student was sent back to the classroom after a school meeting with his 
parents. Three hours later the shooting occurred.

   "The school should have been responsible to relay that to the sheriff's 
office. It looks like this could have been prevented," Robert Jordan, founder 
and director of St. Louis-based Protecting Our Students, said Friday. "People 
died because of those mistakes."

   In addition to Jordan, parents of students slain in a 2018 school shooting 
in Florida say police should have been alerted before Tuesday's rampage.

   The suspect in the Oxford High shooting, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is now charged 
as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes.

   On Friday, prosecutors charged his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, 
with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter. They pleaded not guilty on 
Saturday and a judge imposed a combined $1 million bond.

   The 9mm semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting was bought at a local gun 
shop on Black Friday by James Crumbley as an early Christmas present for his 
son, authorities said.

   School officials became concerned about the younger Crumbley on Monday, a 
day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him searching for ammunition on his 
phone, McDonald told reporters.

   On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan's desk and took a photo. It was 
a drawing of a gun pointing at the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me," 
McDonald said.

   There also was a drawing of a bullet, she said, with words above it: "Blood 
everywhere." Between the gun and the bullet was a person who appeared to have 
been shot twice and is bleeding, she said. "My life is useless" and "The world 
is dead" also were written.

   Ethan Crumbley and both his parents met with school officials at 10 a.m. 
Tuesday. His parents left, and Ethan went back to his classes with his 
backpack, where investigators believe he stashed the gun. Authorities were not 
notified, something that county Sheriff Michael Bouchard said he wishes would 
have been done.

   By 1 p.m. Tuesday, the school erupted in gunshots, chaos and bloodshed.

   "The school had the responsibility to be doing an immediate threat 
assessment on the student and bringing into that conversation the sworn police 
officer and law enforcement," said Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter, 
Alyssa, was one of 17 students slain in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 
in Parkland, Florida.

   About five weeks before the Stoneman Douglas shooting, an FBI tip line 
received a call saying former student Nikolas Cruz had bought guns and planned 
to "slip into a school and start shooting the place up."

   That information was never forwarded to the FBI. Cruz, who had been expelled 
from the school a year earlier and had a long history of emotional and 
behavioral problems, never was contacted.

   Now 23, Cruz pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder.

   "We have to take these threats seriously," Alhadeff said.

   But looking at such an issue after the fact raises other questions, said 
Christopher Smith, professor of Law and Public Policy at Michigan State 
University and chair of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

   You have to consider whether the "teacher and school officials specifically 
have in their training that you need to report all these things," Smith said.

   In a video message to the community Thursday night, Throne acknowledged the 
meeting of Crumbley, the parents and school officials. Throne offered no 
details but said that "no discipline was warranted."

   In his statement Saturday, Throne elaborated on the events of Tuesday 
morning, saying the student was taken to the guidance counselor's office where 
he claimed the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and that he 
planned to pursue video game design as a career. He worked on homework while 
waiting for his parents as counselors watched him.

   "At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on 
his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm," Throne said.

   "While both of his parents were present, counselors asked specific probing 
questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others," Throne 
said, adding counseling was recommended for him, and his parents were notified 
that they had 48 hours to seek it. "When the parents were asked to take their 
son home for the day, they flatly refused and left without their son, 
apparently to return to work."

   He said that the student had no prior disciplinary infractions so he was 
allowed to return to the classroom instead of being "sent home to an empty 
house."

 
 
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