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Oxford High district requests independent investigation into shooting

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Oxford High district requests independent investigation into shooting
Oxford Community Schools district Superintendent Tim Thorne has requested an independent investigation of the deadly shooting allegedly carried out by 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley on Nov. 30.F Photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The superintended of the Michigan school district where a 15-year-old student is suspected of killing four students has requested an independent investigation into the incident.

In a letter Saturday, Oxford Community Schools district Superintendent Tim Thorne said an outside team will investigate the events leading up to the shooting in which Ethan Crumbley is charged with shooting and killing four fellow Oxford High School students with a gun allegedly purchased by his father.

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"It's critically important to the victims, our staff and our entire community that a full and transparent accounting be made," Thorne wrote. "To that end, I've asked for a third-party investigation be conducted so we leave no stone unturned, including any and all interaction the student had with staff and students."

The shooting took place on Tuesday at the school in Oxford Township, about 35 miles northwest of Detroit, at 12:51 p.m. after school staff told Crumbley's parents they must seek counseling for him, Thorne said.

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The Oakland County Sheriff's Office identified the slain students as 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling. Eight others, including a 47-year-old teacher, were injured.

Thorne detailed the events that led up to the shooting in the letter, saying that a teacher saw Crumbley looking at pictures of ammunition on his phone in class the day before the shooting.

He then met with a counselor and another staff member and said he had recently gone to a shooting range with his mother and that "shooting sports are a family hobby."

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Crumbley's parents confirmed the story the next day after the school was initially unable to make contact with his mother immediately after the meeting.

The next day -- the day of the shooting -- a teacher observed "concerning drawings and written statements" by Crimbley and reported them to school counselors and the Dean of students.

Thorne said Crumbley was "immediately removed from the classroom" and brought to the guidance counselor's office where he said the drawing sere "part of a video game he was designing and informed counselors that he planned to pursue video game design as a career."

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He remained in the office for about an hour and a half while under the observation of counselors as Thorne said it was "difficult to reach the parents."

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While waiting Crumbley requested his science homework and proceeded to work on it in the office.

"At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm," Throne said.

When Crumbley's parents arrived the counselors asked "specific probing questions" about his potential to cause harm to himself or others.

"His answers, which were affirmed by his parents during the interview, led counselors to again conclude he did not intend on committing either self-harm or harm to others," Thorne said. "The student's parents never advised the school district that he had direct access to a firearm or that they had recently purchased a firearm for him."

School staff notified Crumbley's parents that they had 48 hours to seek counseling for him or the school would contact Child Protective Services but they "flatly refused" to take him home for the day and left him at school "apparently to return to work" saying later they left the school without checking whether their son had the gun in his possession.

Thorne said that the decision was made to return Crumbley to the classroom rather than "home to an empty house" as he had no prior disciplinary infractions.

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"While we understand this decision has caused anger, confusion and prompted understandable questioning, the counselors made a judgment based on their professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts we now know," Thorne added.

After returning to class Crumbley allegedly opened fire during "passing time between classes when hundreds of students were in the hallway transitioning from one classroom to another."

Thorne added that "the suspect was not able to gain access to a single classroom" as students and staff entered classrooms, locked doors, erected makeshift barricades and "locked down or fled according to their training" before the shooter was able to "walk a short distance to enter the main hallway."

Crumbley is charged as an adult with terrorism and four counts of first-degree murder and gun-related charges.

His parents James and Jennifer Crumbley each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter. They were arrested after a tip led authorities to a commercial building in Detroit, where the couple appeared to be hiding after they missed their arraignment that was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Both Crumbley and his parents have pleaded not guilty to the charges they face.

The parents are being held on $500,000 bail each and their son remains in jail with no bail allowed.

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