A Preventable Tragedy
On November, 30, 2021, 15 year old Ethan Crumbly brought a handgun to Oxford High School with the intent to kill. Oxford High School is a suburban school in Oakland County, Michigan around 30 miles North of Detroit. Crumbly killed 4 students, leaving many more with serious physical and psychological damage. The Oxford school shooting is uniquely personal for me since my school was one of the over 500 schools across 70 school districts from 7 states that had to close school for many days due to fears of copycat crimes. The latest in a slew of school shootings plaguing the United States, the Oxford school shooting raises serious questions about how to prevent this in the future at a time when the country is at risk of becoming desensitized to these horrific events.
Crumbly has been charged as an adult, a determination made by the prosecutor's office, and has pleaded not guilty. He is faced with 24 counts including first degree murder and terrorism. While no motive has yet been established, prosecutors allege that the attack was premeditated, based on digital evidence including a video where he discussed killing students the night before the school shooting.
Crumbly obtained the gun by taking it from his parents, who had stored the gun in an unlocked drawer. Prosecutors allege that this constitutes negligence on the part of the parents, who are being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each. Prosecutor Karen McDonald remarked that “Owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate."
There were several warning signs that Crumbly was planning to commit a school shooting. He was caught searching for ammunition online during school before the shooting. The school attempted to contact his mom, but with no response. However, his mom texted Crumbly the same day saying, "LOL I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught." Mere hours before the shooting, Crumbly was found with a troubling drawing of a firearm and a bleeding victim. A teacher took a photo of the drawing and contacted Crumbly's parents. However, before his parents could look at it, Crumbly altered the drawing. At this time, Ethan's parents did not even know that he had the firearm as they thought it was still in their drawer. Only after the shooting did they recognize it was missing. His parents did not question him about the firearm, nor did they search his backpack. The counselor recommended that the parents seek counseling for Ethan, then dismissed him and allowed him to return to class, sealing the fate of four children who would be killed later that day due to Ethan's horrific actions. The victims were Madisyn Baldwin (17), Justin Shilling (17), Hana St. Juliana (14), and Tate Myre (16),a football player and wrestler who died in a police car on the way to the hospital after running towards the shooter in an attempt to disarm him. There is currently a petition to name the football stadium after Tate to honor his courage and heroism.
Since 2013, there have been 46 school shootings, with 70 people killed and 118 injured. This statistic, coupled with many others, shows that school shootings in the U.S. are a serious problem. Many solutions have been proposed at the local level including anti-bullying initiatives, increased mental health services, and decreasing isolation as many students that shoot schools are found to have mental health issues and these measures would help prevent that. There are also proposals to improve the sense of community in school through bonding activities as many students often notice something about a classmate but do not speak up. At the national level, proposals include bans on automatic weapons and metal detectors in schools that would detect guns and lead to the shooter being arrested before he even gets in the school. This shooting has led to many online petitions for change, including mandating metal detectors in schools.
America has experienced an abundance of school shootings in such a short time span, and yet, nothing seems to change. To honor those lives lost at Oxford, legislators at the federal, state, and local levels need to develop a plan to prevent this from occurring again. Inaction led to 4 innocent students losing their lives-legislators need to act now to make sure more don't follow.