Lawsuit revisions recently filed in Michigan allege that Oxford County school district officials were well aware of concerns surrounding Ethan Crumbley, the Oxford High School sophomore accused of killing four students and injuring seven people in a school shooting on November 30.
The Detroit Free Press obtained a revised lawsuit from the law firm of Geoffrey Fieger, with 11 new counts alleging that school officials have responsibility for the deadly massacre. The lawsuit claims that school administrators ignored or downplayed multiple warning signs that Crumbley, 15, was capable of violence and posed an imminent danger.
“The school was on alert about Ethan,” attorney Nora Hanna, who works for the law firm, told the newspaper. “There are a million things that they could have done.”
The law firm is presumably representing victims’ families or those otherwise impacted by the deadly shooting, but the report did not identify any plaintiffs.
CrimeOnline previously reported that Crumbley’s parents had been called to the school on November 30 after a teacher become concerned about notes and illustrations Crumbley had created. The teen and his parents reportedly met together with school administrators, and Crumbley’s parents refused to take him out of school. The sophomore returned to class, and a short time later he allegedly opened fire in a school hallway, shooting nearly a dozen people before he was apprehended.
The lawsuit documents additional incidents that the attorneys argue should have warranted intervention. According to the report, about three weeks before the shooting, Crumbley allegedly brought a severed bird heard in a jar with yellow liquid and left the jar on a toilet paper dispenser in the boy’s bathroom. Surveillance footage reportedly identified Crumbley as the culprit. CrimeOnline previously reported that prosecutors claimed the teen had kept a bird head in a container in his bedroom for several months, but the revised lawsuit is the first publicly reported claim that Crumbley brought the bird head to school.
Crumley also allegedly brought bullets to school on the day before the shooting massacre, and displayed the bullets while in a classroom, the lawsuit states. On the same day, he posted an ominous message on Twitter: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford.”
The attorneys reportedly said that school officials knew about the bird’s head, the bullets, and the Twitter post, and either downplayed the potential threats or didn’t address them. After the bird’s head was found in a jar, the school sent an email to parents. “Please know that we have reviewed every concern shared with us and investigated all information provided…[w]e want our parents and students to know that there has been no threat to our building nor our students,” the email read in part, according to the report.
Aside from allegedly ignoring clear warning signs, the lawsuit argues that the school principal may have exacerbated the situation before the shooting, by threatening to involve Child Protective Service — without following through — and pulling the sophomore out of class. This may have “encourag[ed Crumbley to accelerate his timetable for murder,” the lawsuit argues, according to the report.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, someone dropped a decapitated deer’s head from the roof of an Oxford High School building in the early morning hours of November 4, which appears to be near the same time that Crumbley allegedly brought the bird’s head to school. Along with the grisly discovery that day, windows on the roof of a building had been painted over in red. A week after the incident, a statement was posted to the school website: “Please know that we have reviewed every concern shared with us and investigated all information provided … Some rumors have evolved from an incident last week, while others do not appear to have any connection.
“Student interpretations of social media posts and false information have exacerbated the overall concern,” the November 12 statement continued. “We want our parents and students to know there has been no threat to our building nor our students.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, the school principal sent an email to parents on November 16.
“I know I’m being redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS,” the principal wrote in the email. ” … Large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors.”
School officials have reportedly identified the person behind the deer head incident, but declined to identify that person, the Detroit Free Press reports.
In a press conference following the deadly shooting, Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said Crumbley was not involved in the November 4 incident, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
“That was a different incident, different student,” McCabe said at a press conference shortly after the shooting.
Crumbley has pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder and terrorism. Both his parents, who were charged with involuntarily manslaughter for allegedly failing to properly supervise and parent their son, have also pleaded guilty.
[Feature image: Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)]