By Robert Snell | The Detroit News
Detroit – An armed security guard at Oxford High School failed to stop a shooting that killed four students and injured seven others, believing the attack was a drill and that a student was carrying “a very good makeup” as he bled to death, a victim’s attorney said. Wednesday.
Attorney Ven Johnson, who represents several victims and their families, brought the allegation against the guard after viewing school surveillance video of the attack. Its review coincides with a broader nationwide review of law enforcement’s response to active shooter attacks since May, when a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers as the police were waiting in the hallway.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday attended by relatives of students killed or injured in the Nov. 30 attack, Johnson focused on what he described as missed opportunities for intervene and save the life of at least one student, 17-year-old Justin Shilling. .
“It’s hard to know he could still be here,” Shilling’s father, Craig Shilling, told reporters. “I will never be the same again.”
Johnson built his timeline after viewing surveillance video that has not been publicly disclosed. Officials and prosecutors with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the video or respond to Johnson’s allegations. The security guard did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The new allegations emerged as Johnson moved to amend a civil lawsuit to name the security guard, a retired Oakland County sheriff’s deputy, as a defendant. According to the sitter’s LinkedIn profile, she retired after more than 28 years as an assistant and spent more than two years working in high school before leaving in June. Her biography mentions her as being “involved in the November 30 school shooting.”
The allegations mark the latest legal fallout from the Oxford attack that also killed students Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Tate Myre, 16.
According to Johnson, the security guard was armed and should have known that 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley launched an attack inside Oxford High at around 12:51 a.m. on November 30.
“At that point, (the guard) should have immediately turned on his body camera, called for backup and medical assistance, and taken positive steps to quickly locate and confront (Crumbley) to avoid harming other students. “, Johnson wrote in the project. amended lawsuit.
The guard told investigators she assumed students were participating in an “ALICE” drill, according to the lawsuit. Drills are used to practice responses to situations involving active shooters. ALICE stands for Alert, Lock, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
At one point, the security guard spotted a victim on a hallway floor, according to Johnson’s file.
“She saw Tate Myre’s body on the floor with him bleeding to death and advised investigators that she thought he was ‘very well made up’,” Johnson wrote.
The guard eventually realized the shooting wasn’t a drill, Johnson said. She pulled out her gun and opened the door to a bathroom where Crumbley was with Shilling and student Keegan Gregory.
The guard opened the door but did not enter the bathroom, Johnson said.
“A short time later, (Ethan Crumbley) shot Justin Shilling and threatened to shoot Keegan Gregory next,” the attorney wrote.
The guard “clearly had the opportunity to step in and prevent Justin’s death,” Johnson added. “(The guard) informed investigators that she did not see or hear anything, which is why she decided not to enter the bathroom.”
After Justin Shilling was shot, Keegan ran out of the bathroom and fled down the hall.
Crumbley left the bathroom and surrendered after seeing deputies armed with long guns, Johnson wrote.
“This fact conclusively establishes that (Crumbley) would have surrendered had (the guard) entered the bathroom and confronted (Crumbley) before shooting Justin and threatening to shoot Keegan Gregory,” Johnson wrote. .
Meghan Gregory, Keegan’s mother, said the actions revealed on surveillance video sounded like an “absolute punch in the gut”.
“It really upset us – knowing that Justin was still alive,” she told reporters. “It hurts my heart.”
Johnson said he wanted to argue the unconstitutionality of the Oxford Public School District – or any government body – “to hide behind government immunity.”
Shilling’s mother, Jill Soave, called the latest development “heartbreakingly unbearable to accept,” according to a post read by Johnson on Wednesday.
“Our only comfort is that after eight months the truth is coming out,” Soave wrote.
School district attorney Timothy Mullins did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Superintendent Ken Weaver said in a statement Wednesday that students and staff acted quickly and that several staff members “showed heroic courage” on the day of the shooting.
“Review by a safety expert confirmed that our personnel’s response reduced further damage and loss of life,” Weaver said. “We are confident that the investigation and third-party review of the events of this day will bring to light all the facts. Safety continues to be our top priority at Oxford Community Schools. We will not be discouraged and will continue our commitment to providing a high quality education to our students in a safe educational environment while continuing to honor Justin, Madisyn, Hana and Tate.
Oxford parents and students who survived the Nov. 30 attack have filed at least 10 lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking tens of millions of dollars from the school district, administrators, councilors and the gun dealer who sold the gun used by the accused shooter.
Johnson wants to add the security guard to a lawsuit originally filed in January in Oakland County Circuit Court. The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of the families of Myre and Schilling and three other students who survived the shooting incident but remain traumatized, according to court documents.
After the Oxford shooting, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard praised the hundreds of first responders who responded to the attack.
“After other school shootings across the country, in certain scenarios where deputies did not enter, I made it very clear to our staff that if they come first, they come in,” he said. he stated earlier. “(The deputies) came in and looked for the threats. They went to gunfire.
Mullins, the lawyer representing six Oxford school defendants named in the complaint, previously said he filed legal briefs months ago that said government immunity protections were appropriate, but that he was ready to discuss the matter further if necessary.
Two Oxford High School staff who met Ethan Crumbley hours before the shooting were placed on paid leave, but no one quit or was fired. Then-superintendent Tim Throne retired, and new superintendent Ken Weaver, who came to the school on the day of the shooting, took over the district in March.
Ethan’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, had been called to school on the morning of November 30 due to teachers’ concerns about their son’s behavior including watching violent videos, searching his phone for ammunition and scribbling disturbing pictures and words on his math. homework.
Ethan Crumbley told officials he posed no threat to himself or others, that he drew as a hobby, and that the drawing was for a video game he was creating. Unconvinced school officials have called on the teenager’s parents to remove him from school and seek mental health counseling for their son. The couple refused, saying they had to work that day. Ethan received his backpack and was allowed to return to class.
Less than two hours later, investigators say he took a handgun his parents had recently bought him from his backpack, got out of the bathroom, and started shooting.
Associated Press contributed.