Before Oxford shooting, officials repeatedly told parents school was safe

A high school teacher spotted the teen charged in the Oxford High School shootings searching online during class for ammunition and flagged school officials before the 15-year-old allegedly shot and killed four students, according to Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

“There was absolute reason to believe this individual was dangerous and disturbed and I'll leave it at that,” McDonald said in a news conference Friday announcing charges against the boy's parents.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announces multiple manslaughter charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley during a press conferenceon December 3, 2021.

The new details raise more questions on what school officials knew about the suspect in the days before the deadly shooting. A teacher was also alarmed on the day of the shooting after finding a note on Ethan Crumbley's desk with the words “the thoughts won't stop” and a drawing of someone who appeared to be shot and bleeding.

For subscribers: Why prosecutors charged Oxford shooting suspect's parents

“The school counselor came to the classroom and removed the shooter and brought him to the office with his backpack,” McDonald said.

School officials then met with Crumbley and his parents that morning, but sent him back to the classroom without searching his bag, where prosecutors believed he had stored the weapon purchased by his father, the prosecutor said.

The officials gave the parents a 48-hour ultimatum to get their son counseling. The parents “resisted the idea” of their son leaving the school that morning, McDonald said.

The shootings began not long afterward.

What did Oxford High School know?

Tim Throne, Oxford Schools superintendent, addressed the community in a 12-minute video on Thursday night, one of the first public messages from the district since the shooting. Throne briefly touched on the school's involvement in Crumbley's behavior.

He confirmed the Tuesday morning meeting between Crumbley, his parents and school officials, but cautioned that it was not a disciplinary meeting.

“No discipline was warranted,” he said. “There are no discipline records at the high school. Yes, this student did have contact with our front office. And yes, his parents were on campus.”

Multiple family members and students have told the Free Press about the rumors that swirled in the days and weeks before Nov. 30. A school district spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether school administrators knew about possible threats before the shooting.

Students said they were already shaken by an incident involving a severed deer head left ominously on campus on Nov. 4, though Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard has said that incident was not related.

Stacey Scheidt, the parent of a junior at Oxford, said she sent an email on Nov. 16 to Principal Steve Wolf, spelling out the concerns and anxiety her son felt over threats posted to social media. She said rumors were swirling around an Instagram post involving a countdown to a school shooting.

It is unclear whether those rumors had any connection to the shootings this week. Wolf and Superintendent Throne did not respond to requests for interviews about emails and parent concerns.

Scheidt shared her emails with the Free Press.

“I know it’s been investigated but my kid doesn’t feel safe at school,” she wrote. “He didn’t even want to go back to school today.”

Scheidt wrote in a Facebook message to the Free Press that an Oxford counselor called her “to again reassure me that school was totally safe and that they had had numerous conversations like this with parents and students alike and there was no threat to the school.”

Wolf, the principal, wrote in a response to Scheidt that no threat existed.

“I know I'm being redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS,” he wrote on Nov. 16. “Large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors.”

Contact Lily Altavena: or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Before Oxford shooting, parents repeatedly told school is safe

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