(CNN) — Days after a 15-year-old student allegedly killed four classmates at a Michigan high school, the district superintendent requested an independent investigation into the incident, the deadliest school shooting ever on a US K-12 campus. since May 2018.
Ethan Crumbley is accused of carrying out Tuesday’s shooting at the Oxford High School in suburban Detroit and faces a number of charges as an adult, including terrorism and first-degree murder, among others. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney during his arraignment Wednesday.
His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with their son’s alleged actions.
The shooting claimed the life of 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin; Tate Myre, 16 years old; Hana St. Juliana, 14 years old; and Justin Shilling, 17, authorities said.
On Saturday, Tim Throne, who heads the Oxford Community Schools district, detailed in a letter the school’s account of several key events leading up to the shooting.
“It is vitally important to the victims, our staff, and our entire community that full and transparent accounting is conducted. To that end, I have requested that a third party investigation be conducted so that we leave no stone unturned, including everyone and every interaction the student had with staff and students, “Throne wrote in the letter to the Oxford community.
The day before
On Monday, a teacher spotted the suspect looking at photos of ammunition on his cell phone during class, prompting a meeting with a counselor and another staff member. During that discussion, the student told them that he and his mother had recently gone to a shooting range and that “shooting sports are a family pastime,” Throne wrote in the letter.
The school tried to contact the student’s mother that day, but did not receive a response until the next day when his parents confirmed the student’s story, Throne said.
After school officials contacted Jennifer Crumbley regarding her son searching the web for ammunition, she texted him saying, “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” prosecutors have said.
The morning of the shooting
Then on Tuesday, the day of the shooting, a teacher alerted school counselors and the dean of students to “related drawings and written statements” the student had created, according to the letter. He was “immediately taken out of the classroom” and taken to a vocational counselor’s office, Throne explains.
The student told a school counselor that “the drawing was part of a video game that he was designing and informed the counselors that he planned to pursue video game design as a career,” Throne noted.
After that discussion, the student stayed in the office for an hour and a half while school personnel called his parents and waited for them to arrive at school, according to the letter. While waiting, the student said he was worried about missing his assignments and “asked for his science homework, which he then worked on while in the office,” the letter read.
“At no point did the counselors believe that the student could hurt others based on his behavior, responses and behavior, which seemed calm,” Throne said.
Upon the parents’ arrival, school counselors asked the student “specific probing questions” about his potential for self-harm or harm to others, Throne said. The responses he provided “led the counselors to conclude again that he did not intend to harm himself or others,” according to the letter.
School counselors told parents to seek counseling for their child within 48 hours, or the school would contact Child Protective Services, Throne wrote.
When asked to take their son home for the rest of the day, Throne said the student’s parents “flatly refused” and left their son to “go back to work.” And because the student had no prior disciplinary actions on his record, the school counselors decided to allow him to return to his class, rather than send him to what they thought would be an empty house, Throne explained.
“While we understand that this decision has caused anger, confusion, and understandable questions, the counselors made a judgment based on their professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts that we now know,” he said.
Throne noted that the decision to send the student back to class was not shared with the principal or assistant principal.
Karen McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor leading the case, said Crumbley apparently had the gun used in the shooting in her backpack during meeting with school officials and her parents.
In his letter, Throne said that he does not know whether or not the weapon was in the student’s backpack, as “it has not been confirmed by the police that we know of or by our investigation at this time.”
The alleged shooter began firing a gun “during the time between classes when hundreds of students were in the hallway going from one classroom to another” on Tuesday, Throne said.
Before the attacker could walk a short distance to enter the main hallway, students and staff had already entered classrooms, locked doors, erected makeshift barricades, and locked or fled according to their training, “Throne explained. “The suspect was unable to access a single classroom.”
An initial review of the shooting videos shows that “the response from staff and students to the shooter was efficient, exemplary and definitely prevented further deaths and injuries,” Throne noted.
Parents Plead Not Guilty to Charges Related to School Shooting
Crumbley and his parents spent Saturday night in the same Oakland County jail, but were kept apart.
James and Jennifer Crumbley pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges during an arraignment Saturday morning. The court appearance came after authorities spent hours searching for them, a manhunt that began when they failed to appear for an arraignment scheduled for Friday.
Police said the couple were found in a Detroit warehouse early Saturday morning, but their attorneys said they intended to turn themselves in.
During the parents’ arraignment, prosecutors alleged that they allowed their son “free access” to the weapon used in the shooting. But one of the parents’ attorneys, Shannon Smith, said the gun was locked.
“When the prosecution asserts that this child had free access to a weapon, that is absolutely false,” Smith said. “This court will see … that much more happened than this court has ever known.”
Prosecutors have said that James Crumbley bought the gun that her son allegedly used in the shooting, a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semi-automatic pistol, four days earlier, on Black Friday or Black Friday.
Shortly after, Ethan Crumbley posted a photo of a gun on an Instagram account and captioned it, “I just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm” with a heart-eye emoji, McDonald said.
Jennifer Crumbley also posted about the gun on social media, calling it “her new Christmas present,” McDonald continued.
An Oakland County judge set bail for James and Jennifer Crumbley at $ 500,000 each.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Carolyn Sung, and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism