New evidence alleges Ethan Crumbley exhibited more warning signs ahead of school shooting
Written by Nadine El-Bawab ABC News on September 22, 2022
(OXFORD, Mich.) — New evidence uncovered during discovery of the case of Ethan Crumbley allegedly shows that Oxford High School teachers and school officials failed to respond to warning signs exhibited by the accused school shooter in the months leading up to the November 2021 shooting, attorney Ven Johnson, who represents the victims and their families in a lawsuit, told reporters Thursday.
The evidence was allegedly uncovered as several lawsuits against the school, school officials, the school district, Crumbley and his parents have been filed. At least eight lawsuits accuse the school district and others of wrongdoing and failure to act in the months and days leading up to the shooting, despite teachers and counselors allegedly being aware of concerning behavior exhibited by the accused shooter.
Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot ordered the release of evidence in June, including school surveillance footage from the shooting. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith also enjoined coordinated discovery and other matters for eight civil lawsuits brought against the Oxford, Michigan, school and school officials.
Crumbley, who was a student at the school, is charged with 24 counts after he allegedly shot and killed four of his classmates on Nov. 30, 2021.
His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly failing to recognize warning signs about their son in the months before the shooting.
All three Crumbleys have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Johnson, in a press conference Thursday, said new details were revealed after deposing teachers and school employees who had direct contact with the accused shooter prior to the Nov. 30 shooting, including email correspondence between school employees and several instances where Crumbley’s concerning behavior was not addressed.
Evidence allegedly uncovered included a school assignment submitted by Crumbley in late August 2021 on which he drew what Johnson alleged might be a magazine full of bullets, or a building. In sworn testimony, the teacher who discovered this drawing alleged she only saw the drawing on Nov. 29, just one day before the shooting.
In another instance, a Sept. 8 email from a Spanish teacher to the school’s counselor discusses a school assignment in which Crumbley allegedly wrote that he feels “terrible” and that his family “was a mistake,” Johnson said on Thursday.
Despite the school counselor being informed of this instance, the counselor allegedly never spoke to Crumbley, Johnson alleged.
Weeks later, a teacher sent an email to the school counselor on Nov. 10 raising concerns about Crumbley, saying he is having a rough time and that he may need to speak to the counselor, Johnson alleged.
The counselor testified in his deposition that he went down to Crumbley’s classroom and asked him to step out into the hallway. The counselor then allegedly told Crumbley that if he is having a tough time, the counselor was available to speak with him. Crumbley allegedly responded “okay,” according to Johnson.
Johnson criticized the counselor’s actions, saying more needed to be done and that the counselor needed to follow up with Crumbley, considering this was the second time concerning behavior had been flagged to the counselor. According to Johnson, another email uncovered was sent from a teacher to the dean of students and another school official, telling them that Crumbley was seen in class looking at photos of bullets on his cell phone. The teacher then looked at some of Crumbley’s previous work completed earlier in the year and said it “leans a bit toward the violent side,” Johnson alleges the email said.
The parents of Tate Myre, Justin Shilling and Keegan Gregory, all victims of the shooting, were present at the press conference with Johnson and criticized the school board’s lack of transparency in the months after the shooting, saying its members should resign. Its president resigned last week after receiving months of backlash.
The school board had declined several offers from the state attorney general to investigate the shooting, saying it will launch a third-party investigation as soon as litigation in civil suits brought against the district conclude.
Separately, a Michigan judge ruled Thursday that Ethan Crumbley will remain in Oakland County Jail for adults, as part of monthly procedural hearing. Crumbley’s trial was initially scheduled to begin in September, but was pushed to January 2023.
Attorneys for the Oxford Community School District did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
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