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Weeks before the Oxford High shooting, growing fears at Michigan school

Jennifer Chambers and Robert Snell, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

DETROIT — An Oxford High School teacher alerted a counselor to disturbing behavior by Ethan Crumbley hours before Tuesday's mass shooting.

It was the second time in as many days that a teacher had expressed worry.

School leaders were concerned enough to call his parents to the school, where they demanded that he get counseling and asked that he be removed from class. Ethan's parents resisted, prosecutors say, and left him, perhaps unknowingly, with a loaded gun at the school.

Those were the last warning signs before an attack that ended a month of building worry and fear among students at the 1,800-student school, some of whom feared that a school shooting was imminent, according to parents, school officials and notices from the district.

On at least two occasions earlier in November, school leaders sent messages to families to reassure them the high school was safe, but the assurances did little to stem the fears.

It's not clear that any of the earlier anxieties were a result of the conduct of Ethan, a 15-year-old sophomore now charged with killing four fellow students and wounding seven others, including a teacher. In fact, police and school officials say the earlier memos stemmed from unrelated incidents.


The unidentified teacher on the morning of the attack, however, was so disturbed by a drawing she saw on Crumbley's desk that she snapped a photo as evidence just hours before he is accused of opening fire inside the school.

According to authorities, on a piece of paper in front of Crumbley on Tuesday morning, the teacher saw the words: "the thoughts won't stop, help me" and a drawing of a bullet and the phrase: "blood everywhere."

There was a sketch of a person shot twice and bleeding, a laughing emoji and the final lines: “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.”

Additional details of what happened at Oxford High School the day of the mass shooting were revealed on Friday by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, who announced involuntary manslaughter charges against Crumbley's parents.


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