Oxford shooting fallout - School closures, a vigil for the victims, possible charges for shooter's parents

In the days that have followed the mass shooting at a Metro Detroit high school, a memorial has continued to grow around Oxford High School's sign outside the district building. Teddy bears, flowers, candles, and balloons now cover the sign. 

But the picture of what led up to the tragedy that left four teenagers dead and several others injured is still coming into focus.  

The gun used in the shooting was purchased days earlier. The alleged shooter had left a long digital trail of his plans to commit violence. Four teenagers have now died from the incident. 

But unknowns around Ethan Crumbley and the possible motivation that stirred him to randomly target classmates remain. Prosecutor Karen McDonald didn't elaborate on how the attack was planned during a Wednesday press conference where she announced charges against Crumbley - only that it was premeditated.

"It wasn't even a close call, it was absolutely premeditated," McDonald told reporters.

McDonald is now weighing whether to charge Crumbley's parents as well while local law enforcement continues to work on the details over how the 15-year-old got ahold of his dad's 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.

The victims

The number of victims that died after the Oxford shooting climbed to four on Wednesday when a 17-year-old boy, Justin Shilling succumbed to his injuries. He, along with Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Hana St. Juliana, 14, all died after suffering gunshot wounds from a weapon allegedly fired by Crumbley.

FOX 2 spoke with a friend of Myre, who described the football standout as someone that "everybody aspires to be."

"If you need something, you go to him," said his friend. "He's our captain and always will be because (he's) the guy you can turn to, to get things done."

Among the others that were wounded, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard gave an update on a 14-year-old's recovery Wednesday, saying she had improved. He thanked the hard work of emergency responders and medical care providers.

Bouchard also updated the status of the other wounded victims - three of which are recovering at home.

  • A 17-year-old female is in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the neck.
  • A 15-year-old male who suffered a left leg gunshot wound was discharged Tuesday.
  • A 17-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the hip was discharged Tuesday.
  • The 47-year-old female teacher who was shot in her left shoulder was discharged Tuesday from McLaren Lapeer Hospital.

Reviewing potential charges against parents

The Oakland County prosecutor used one word to describe her interaction with the parents of the alleged Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley.

"Difficult," said Karen McDonald.

According to the Oakland County sheriff, the 15-year-old sophomore used his dad's 9mm semi-automatic handgun that he bought on Black Friday to take the lives of four students and injure seven others.

"We know owning a gun means securing it properly locked up and keeping ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals especially minors," McDonald said.

It's not clear how the high school sophomore was able to get his hands on his father's weapon. Although she didn't elaborate, McDonald says her office is considering charges against both James and Jennifer Crumbley who were seen online attending Ethan's arraignment.

"We will be making a decision swiftly," McDonald said. 

It is not clear where James Crumbley purchased the 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 - it's not a firearm that a lot of dealers carry and isn't a model that's been manufactured for years. 

FOX 2 looked into the criminal background of both James and Jennifer Crumbley which include driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, and writing worthless checks - all misdemeanors when they lived in Florida. It would not prevent them from passing a background check mandated by the state to purchase a gun.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that the shooter fired more than 30 rounds and had more ammunition on him - raising the question of if he got that from his father as well.

Schools closed out of precaution

More than 60 Southeast Michigan schools will be closed Thursday amid a rash of online threats made against districts in the wake of the Oxford shooting. The district closures are a precaution and most of the threats that have been investigated haven't been deemed credible.

But nerves are high and it's not unusual for people to rethink things that others might have said in the days after an incident, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told FOX 2.

"Kids are thinking of a moment when someone said something off-color and they're reporting those to their parents. And then the parents feel obligated to give us a call," Wickersham said. 

It's in this setting where the complexity of a tragedy makes law enforcement's job more difficult. The office has to investigate each complaint it receives, which may entail interviews and calls to district administrators. 

But if it's not a rumor that is being reported, it may be an online post on social media that is being shared. A statement by Rochester schools said there was no credible threat, but that safety was a priority, which is why it'll be closed Thursday.

"There have been rumors circulating on social media indicating that other high schools may be at risk of experiencing a tragedy similar to the one that occurred recently at Oxford High School. At Rochester Community Schools, we take all threats very seriously," it said.

In Sterling Heights, threats were found written on the bathroom wall of the Heritage Junior High School. The school will have a heightened police presence Thursday. The school sent a letter to parents saying it was working with police to find who wrote the threat.

See a full list of the districts that will be closed here

What else we're watching

  1. As conversations over the mass shooting evolve, so is the framing over the need for revised gun laws - both in the context of who can purchase them and how they are stored. 
  2. Major League Baseball is facing its first lockout in nearly 30 years amid a work stoppage due to disagreements over the sport's collective bargaining agreement that expired Wednesday.
  3. Congress is in a scramble mode to avert a government shutdown ahead of a potential shutdown Friday. Lawmakers are looking to enact stopgap measures that will temporarily fund the government as it seeks a compromise. 
  4. The Detroit Red Wings scored their fourth consecutive win Wednesday night after beating the Seattle Kraken 4-3 in a shootout. It was their first game against the league's newest franchise.
  5. Experts are pointing toward a rise in flu cases on UM's campus as a good reason to get one's shot this winter. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Temperatures will climb into the 50s on Thursday. There should also be a noticeable boost in windy conditions with gusts up to 50 mph as well. Expect temperatures to fall back down as we enter the weekend.

Biden's new winter COVID-19 plan includes reimbursement for at-home tests

President Joe Biden is set to kick off a more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots Thursday as he unveils his winter plans for combating the coronavirus and its omicron variant with enhanced availability of shots and vaccines but without major new restrictions.

The plan includes a requirement for private insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests and a tightening of testing requirements for people entering the U.S. regardless of their vaccination status. But as some other nations close their borders or reimpose lockdowns, officials said Biden was not moving to impose additional restrictions beyond his recommendation that Americans wear masks indoors in public settings.

Biden said Wednesday that the forthcoming strategy, to be unveiled during a speech at the National Institutes of Health, would fight the virus "not with shutdowns or lockdowns but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and more."

The White House released details of Biden's plan early Thursday, in advance of the speech.