A lawsuit alleging that a Michigan high school didn’t do enough to protect students from the teenager who is charged in a fatal November shooting claims the boy showed multiple instances of bizarre behavior without any response from school officials.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, faces charges of first-degree murder and terrorism in connection with the Nov. 30 shootings at Oxford High School, in the Detroit suburbs, that killed four and left seven injured. The four dead were all students. Those injured included a teacher.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger is suing the Oxford school district for $100 million on behalf of sisters Bella and Riley Franz, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Riley Franz, 17, was shot in the neck during the massacre. Bella Franz, 14, was not wounded but did see her sister shot.
The lawsuit claims that about three weeks before the shooting, Crumbley brought the head of a bird to school and left it in a boys’ bathroom, sitting in a jar filled with yellow liquid, according to the Free Press.
Although the discovery was reported to school officials, the lawsuit said parents of students were told everything was fine.
“Please know that we have reviewed every concern shared with us and investigated all information provided. … [We] want our parents and students to know that there has been no threat to our building nor our students,” read an email sent out by the school’s administration the day after the head was found, the Free Press reported.
On Nov. 4, a severed deer’s head was dumped in the school courtyard, according to the school’s website. Messages were written on windows in red paint. Again, the school told parents not to worry.
“I know I’m being redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS,” the principal wrote in a Nov. 16 email, which was cited in the lawsuit, the Free Press reported. “… Large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors.”
According to the Free Press, the individual who brought the deer’s head has been identified and is not Crumbley.
The lawsuit said that on Nov. 29, the day before the shooting, Crumbley openly brought bullets to class, the lawsuit states, according to the Free Press.
The suit claims school officials knew about the bullets and a tweet from Crumbley that day saying, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford.”
Attorney Nora Hanna, who works with Fieger, told the Free Press that the school district was “on alert” about Crumbley.
“There are a million things that they could have done,” she said.
But what was done actually made matters worse, the lawsuit claims, according to the Free Press.
“(The principal) excited Ethan Crumbley by pulling him out of class, warning him that Child Protective Services might be called, thereby encouraging Crumbley to accelerate his timetable for murder,” the lawsuit states, according to the newspaper, adding that taking him out of class and making him wait for a meeting with his parents “further escalated” his plan.
The lawsuit’s allegations come as prosecutors offered more details about Crumbley’s home life during a hearing concerning his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley.
The Crumbleys are facing involuntary manslaughter charges for what prosecutors describe as bad parenting choices they think led to the four students’ deaths.
Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Marc Keast revealed that last March, Ethan Crumbley texted his mother several times that “he thought there was a demon or a ghost or someone else inside the home,” the Free Press reported.
Jennifer Crumbley did not reply for several hours, Keast said.
The prosecutor claimed Ethan Crumbley tortured animals in May and recorded himself doing so, according to the Free Press The prosecutor revealed that a severed bird’s head was under his bed for six months.
In August, according to Keast, Ethan Crumbley made a video showing him holding his father’s handgun and texted a friend the message: “It’s time to shoot up a school. JK. JK. JK.”
“Ethan was gravely troubled,” Keast said, according to the Free Press. “He was fascinated with firearms. He was violent. He displayed terrifying tendencies and behaviors, and he literally sketched out what he planned to do in his journal and his drawings.”
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