Attorney details four red flags in Oxford shooting that show teen was troubled

Detroit — An attorney representing families of four students slain and several others wounded in the Nov. 30 Oxford High School shooting said Thursday that the alleged 15-year-old shooter did show troubling signs that were noted to school officials, including at least two that had not been previously revealed.

Both instances occurred during the first month of school in 2021.

In one instance, Ethan Crumbley, who is facing multiple charges that carry life in prison, drew a self-portrait on a notecard for a class assignment that the teacher said later had an image that could be a magazine filled with bullets, Detroit attorney Ven Johnson said. There also was a faint outline of a gun even though Crumbley tried to erase it, he said.

In the other example, a Spanish teacher emailed Crumbley’s counselor to report that the sophomore had written an autobiographical poem that said “he feels terrible and that his family is a mistake,” the lawyer said.

“From the beginning of school, Ethan Crumbley was evidencing signs of being a highly troubled individual, to say the least,” Johnson said during a Thursday press conference alongside the parents of victims Justin Shilling, Keegan Gregory and Tate Myre. “There weren’t warning signs. There were stop signs everywhere especially, on Monday the (Nov.) 29th and Tuesday the 30th.”

During an hour-and-half press conference, Johnson revealed four new red flags deriving from depositions of six Oxford High School officials that they believe could have prevented the tragedy had corrective action taken place.

Specifically, Johnson detailed that Crumbley turned in drawings and assignments that showed “violent” responses. Teachers alerted counselors and school officials that Crumbley was looking at bullets and videos of gunning down crowds while sitting in class even up to the day of the tragedy, he said, instances that were reported in court documents and a February preliminary exam for parents James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter connected to the deaths of four Oxford High students.

Johnson’s firm has several related lawsuits pending in Oakland County Circuit Court and federal court. Johnson said he wants to argue the unconstitutionality of Oxford Community Schools — or any government body — “to hide behind governmental immunity.”

Attorney Ven Johnson, center, with family members of victims, from left, Sheri Myre her husband, Buck Myre, Meghan Gregory and Jill Soave.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot had previously ordered attorneys into mediation on the issues, but after they reported being unable to resolve matters, she told attorneys in July that they have 60 days to comply with depositions from six school employees named as defendants: Pam Parker Fine and Shawn Hopkins, both school counselors; Nicholas Ejak, dean of students; and teachers Jacquelyn Kubina, Becky Morgan and Allison Karpinski.

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