Oxford H.S. Officials Had Legal Grounds to Search Shooting Suspect’s Backpack and Locker But Did Not, Prosecutor Says

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School officials in Michigan had legal grounds to search shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley’s backpack and locker but did not do so, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told CNN on Monday.

“We don’t know exactly if that weapon was in his bag, where it was, we just know it was in the school and he had access to it,” McDonald told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

When asked if school staff members might be prosecuted, McDonald replied, “We haven’t ruled out charging anyone.”

McDonald also said there was evidence beyond what has already been revealed that she will use in prosecuting Crumbley and his parents in the shooting that left four students dead.

Following Tuesday’s shooting in Oxford, Michigan, and subsequent manhunt and arrest of the suspected shooter’s parents, authorities said the three were being housed at the same facility and monitored under suicide watch.

Staff at the Oakland County Jail facility in Pontiac were checking on the three “multiple times an hour,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a press conference Saturday.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of fatally shooting four classmates and wounding seven others at Oxford High School. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter over Tuesday’s shooting and were due to attend an arraignment Friday.

Their failure to appear set authorities off to locate the couple, who were found and apprehended Saturday.

The three are not able to communicate with each other in the jail, Bouchard said, and he did not believe Ethan Crumbley had been informed of his parents being charged and arrested.

“He wouldn’t have been made aware that we were searching for his parents since he’s in isolation, and it’s not like we have a TV clicker in his hands,” Bouchard said Saturday.

None of the Crumbleys had communicated with his staff and there is “nothing to lead us to believe that anybody has any mental health challenges so far based on records or information we’ve uncovered,” he said.

Ethan Crumbley was charged as an adult Wednesday with terrorism, first degree murder and other counts in the shooting that killed Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17. In court

Wednesday, a defense attorney submitted a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

James and Jennifer Crumbley have pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges, which were brought forth as prosecutors alleged they provided unrestricted access to the gun Ethan Crumbley is accused of using.

Attorneys for the parents maintain they intended to turn themselves in to authorities before their arrest inside an industrial building in nearby Detroit.

“We intend to fight this case in the courtroom and not in the court of public opinion. We know that in the end the entire story and truth will prevail,” the defendants’ attorneys said.

“They appeared to be hiding in the building,” Detroit Police Chief James White said during a news conference early Saturday. They were “very distressed” after they were detained, the chief said.

White said he did not know the Crumbleys’ intentions, but added, “this isn’t indicative of turning themselves in, hiding in a warehouse.”

Man helped Crumbley parents into his workspace

A man who police say assisted the Crumbleys get into the Detroit building where they were found has come forward and is cooperating with authorities, the man’s attorney said.

Andrzej Sikora, 65, knew the Crumbleys were using his workspace, but he “did not really know what was going on” and didn’t know the couple “had active warrants” when they were discovered and subsequently arrested, attorney Clarence Dass told CNN Sunday.

Sikora “got roped into it,” Dass said, but declined to say why he allowed the couple to stay in the workspace or provide additional details on their relationship other than to say “he knew them, but not well.”

Surveillance footage showed an individual guiding the Crumbleys as they parked their vehicle in the back of the building during daylight hours, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Dass told CNN his client was at the workspace for “a short period of time,” but was not there late Friday evening and the overnight hours when the Crumbleys were arrested, adding he didn’t realize the Crumbleys were in his space for “that long.”

Sikora “has been an upstanding citizen his entire life. An immigrant from Poland, he has dedicated his adult life to the arts and metro Detroit community,” Dass said in a press release Sunday afternoon, adding Sikora contacted authorities to provide information upon learning of the Crumbleys’ arrest.

Sheriff Bouchard said Saturday law enforcement is gathering information and would present it to the county prosecutor for potential charges. As of early Monday, Sikora has not been charged with any crimes.

Superintendent calls for third-party investigation

Oxford Community Schools in Michigan has requested an independent third-party investigation of Tuesday’s shooting at Oxford High School, Superintendent Tim Throne said in a letter addressed to the Oxford school community Saturday.

Throne provided details on “the school’s version of events” in the letter, highlighting shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley’s movements leading up to and during the shooting.

Tuesday morning, after a teacher alerted school counselors and the Dean of students about concerning drawings and written statements made by the suspect, he was “immediately removed from the classroom” and taken to a guidance counselor’s office, Throne explained in the letter. A day earlier, the student was discovered viewing images of ammunition on his cell phone during class and said it was for his family’s shooting hobby, the letter said.

The suspect told a school counselor the drawing was for a video game he was designing, Throne said. Guidance counselors monitored the student in their office as they unsuccessfully tried to reach his parents for an hour and a half, the letter said.

After the parents were contacted and arrived, counselors asked questions about the student’s capacity for harm, and the family’s answers “led counselors to again conclude he did not intend on committing either self-harm or harm to others,” the letter said.

School counselors told the parents they had 48 hours to seek counseling for their son, otherwise the school would have to contact Child Protective Services, the letter reads. When asked to take their child home for the rest of the day, Throne said the student’s parents “flatly refused,” leaving their son behind to “return to work.”

Because he had no prior disciplinary actions on his record, school counselors decided to allow him to return to his class rather than send him to what they thought would be an empty home, Throne said, adding the decision was not shared with the principal or assistant principal.

The suspect starting firing his gun “during passing time between classes when hundreds of students were in the hallway transitioning from one classroom to the other” later that morning, Throne said, and it is unclear to him if the gun was in the student’s backpack during their meeting.

“Before the shooter was able to walk a short distance to enter the main hallway, students and staff had already entered classrooms, locked doors, erected makeshift barricades and locked down or fled according to their training,” Throne said. “The suspect was not able to gain access to a single classroom.”

An initial review of videos of the shooting showed “staff and students’ response to the shooter was efficient, exemplary and definitely prevented further deaths and injuries,” the superintendent said.

An independent security consultant has been requested to review the district’s safety procedures and practices carried out by teachers and staff during Tuesday’s shooting, Throne said.

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