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A Michigan student is charged as an adult in shooting at a high school


Prosecutors in Michigan are charging a 15-year-old boy as an adult with premeditated murder for allegedly shooting to death four of his classmates at Oxford High School on Tuesday and injuring seven others, including a teacher. As Quinn Klinefelter reports from member station WDET in Detroit, new details are coming to light about just how far in advance the shooting was planned.

QUINN KLINEFELTER, BYLINE: The quiet of small-town Oxford shattered when sophomore student Ethan Crumbley allegedly came out of a high school bathroom armed with a 9mm handgun and began methodically shooting down hallways and into open classrooms. Authorities say he was not targeting anyone specifically, and he surrendered a few minutes later to deputies who quickly arrived at the scene. Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald says the shooting demands the harshest of penalties.


KAREN MCDONALD: There are crimes that the legislature has said are so serious that a person who commits them can automatically be charged as an adult. First-degree murder is the most serious of all those crimes. Second, there are facts leading up in the shooting that suggest this was not just an impulsive act.

KLINEFELTER: Those facts emerged during Crumbley's arraignment. Officials with the sheriff's department said they'd found a video on his cellphone he allegedly made the day before the shooting, where he talked about killing students at Oxford High School on Tuesday, as well as a journal describing his desire to gun down classmates. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says the teen never had a history of making such comments or complaining about issues like bullying. He said the alleged gunman was never expelled and wasn't on law enforcement's radar. But Bouchard says shortly before the shooting, school officials began to realize something was amiss.


MICHAEL BOUCHARD: The schools did have contact with the student the day before and the day of the shooting for behavior in the classroom that they felt was concerning. In fact, the parents were brought in the morning of the shooting and had a face-to-face meeting with the school.

KLINEFELTER: The suspect's father had just bought the gun on Black Friday, four days before the shooting. Prosecutor McDonald says the parents should have kept the gun and ammunition well away from a minor like their son. And the fact that they apparently did not has her contemplating the unusual step of charging them with a crime as well.


MCDONALD: Responsible gun ownership, including the security of a gun, is an absolute imperative to protect our community today and in the future. And those who do not do that should be and will be held accountable.

KLINEFELTER: McDonald is already adding other charges against the alleged shooter. The sophomore faces one count of terrorism causing death. The prosecutor says those who did not suffer gunshot wounds are still victims of the horrific incident.


MCDONALD: What about all the children who ran screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now, who can't eat and can't sleep and can't imagine a world where they could ever set foot back in that school? Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community.

KLINEFELTER: A judge ordered the boy transferred from a juvenile facility to the Oakland County Jail, where prosecutors say the 15-year-old will still be kept, quote, "out of sight and sound from adult prisoners." He faces a maximum sentence of life without parole.

For NPR News, I'm Quinn Klinefelter in Detroit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Quinn Klinefelter

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