Teen charged with murder, terrorism in Michigan school shooting as death toll rises to 4

A 15-year-old boy was charged Wednesday with murder, terrorism and other counts for a shooting that killed four fellow students and injured others at Michigan’s Oxford High School.

Charges against Ethan Crumbley were announced Wednesday, a few hours after authorities reported the death of a fourth teen from the school in southeastern Michigan. Crumbley is charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts assault with intent to murder.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald did not reveal a possible motive for Tuesday’s shooting at Oxford High School, which is located in a community of about 22,000 people roughly 48 kilometres north of Detroit. However, she said prosecutors are “confident” they can show the crime was premeditated.

“There is a mountain of digital evidence. Videotape, social media — all digital evidence possible,” she said.

Suspect’s father bought gun

Deputies rushed to the school around lunchtime and arrested the suspect in a hallway within minutes. He put his hands in the air as deputies approached, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said late Tuesday at a news conference.

The boy’s father had bought the 9-mm Sig Sauer used in the shooting on Friday, Bouchard said. He did not know why the man bought the semi-automatic handgun, which his son had been posting pictures of and practising shooting, Bouchard said.

The four students killed were identified as: 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling, who died Wednesday.

People bring flowers to a makeshift memorial outside of Oxford High School on Wednesday. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Myre died in a patrol car as a deputy tried to get him to an emergency room, Bouchard said.

A teacher who received a graze wound to the shoulder has left the hospital, but seven students ranging in age from 14 to 17 remained hospitalized through the night with gunshot wounds, he said.

The gun the boy was carrying had seven more rounds of ammo in it when he surrendered, Bouchard said.

Social media posts

Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the student’s parents advised their son not to talk to investigators. Police must seek permission from a juvenile’s parents or guardian to speak with them, he added.

An Oakland County sheriff’s deputy hugs family members of a student in the parking lot of Oxford High School on Wednesday. (Paul Sancya/The Associated Press)

After the attack, authorities learned of social media posts about threats of a shooting at the roughly 1,700-student school. The sheriff stressed how crucial it is for such tips to be sent to authorities, while also cautioning against spreading social media rumours before a full investigation.

McCabe downplayed the significance of a situation in early November when a deer’s head was thrown off the school roof, which he said was “absolutely unrelated” to the shooting. The incident prompted school administrators to post two letters to parents on the school’s website, saying they were responding to rumours of a threat against the school but had found none.

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Bouchard said the student in custody in the shooting had no previous run-ins with his department, and he was not aware of any disciplinary history at school.

“That’s part of our investigation, to determine what happened prior to this event, and if some signs were missed, how were they missed and why,” he said.

The district said in a statement that all schools would be closed for the rest of the week.

Vigil for victims

Isabel Flores, a 15-year-old ninth grader, told Detroit television station WJBK that she and other students heard gunshots and saw another student bleeding from the face. They then ran from the area through the rear of the school, she said.

A concerned parent, Robin Redding, said her son, Treshan Bryant, stayed home Tuesday after hearing threats of a possible shooting. “This couldn’t be just random,” she said.

Bryant, who is in Grade 12, said he had heard vague threats “for a long time now” about plans for a shooting.

Aiden Watson, who was injured at Oxford High School, attends a vigil with his mother at LakePoint Community Church in Oxford, Mich., on Tuesday. (Paul Sancya/The Associated Press)

At a vigil Tuesday night at LakePoint Community Church in Oxford, Leeann Dersa choked back tears as she hugged friends and neighbours. Dersa has lived nearly all of her 73 years in the community. Her grandchildren attended the high school.

“Scared us all something terrible. It’s awful,” Dersa said of the shooting.

Pastor Jesse Holt said news of the shooting flooded in to him and his wife, including texts from some of the 20 to 25 students who are among the 400-member congregation.

“Some were very scared, hiding under their desks and texting us, ‘We’re safe, we’re OK. We heard gunshots, but we’re OK.’ They were trying to calm us. At least that’s how it felt,” he said.

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