Michigan school district officials, where a mass shooting at Oxford High School started four dead and seven injured last year, are defending their actions in the face of two lawsuits.
Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne shared a letter to parents Tuesday, to clarify the rumors and controversies surrounding the Nov. 30 shooting in suburban Detroit.
Although no charges have been filed against the school district or its leaders, two lawsuits asking for $100 million each were filed against the district, its superintendent, director and others on December 9. A lawsuit alleges administrators knew suspect Ethan Crumbley was dangerous before the shooting and accuses the defendants of “gross negligence.”
A lawsuit alleges the school was aware of concerns raised by Crumbley’s social media posts depicting “violent trends and ideas”. He reportedly wrote in an article the day before the shooting: “Now I have become Death, destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford,” the lawsuit said.
Throne said in Tuesday’s statement that the school district was not aware of Crumbley’s social media presence and related posts until after the Nov. 30 shooting. Throne referred to the discovery of a deer head at the school on November 4, saying it had been investigated and was “in no way related” to the shooting suspect of November 30.
He also addressed the head of a bird found in a fishbowl in a student toilet at Oxford High School on November 11. Throne said the incident was investigated by law enforcement, who determined there was no threat.
“They were unable to determine when or how the pot was delivered. No threats or other content accompanied the strange act,” he said.
Throne said another person was responsible for the bird’s head, not Crumbley.
But, one of the lawsuits said Crumbley placed the bird’s head in the bathroom. Additionally, Oakland County Assistant District Attorney Marc Keast previously said Crumbley, “kept the severed head of a bird he had tortured and mutilated in a jar in his bedroom for six months.”
Throne also said the allegations about the live ammunition found at the school were “completely untrue”.
The neighborhood has also been under heat since dropping Crumbley in the classroom on the day of filming after a teacher saw him drawing a gun and blood and school officials called his parents for a meeting.
Throne said the meeting involved the suspect, the dean of students and an adviser, not other high school administrators.
“Our students and staff should be proud. The administration of our high school… rushed to the incident to effectively rescue the children, administer aid to the injured and locate the perpetrator, thereby putting themselves in danger. As an administrative team, we are extremely proud of their courageous efforts that day,” Throne said.
Throne also said the district will respond in detail to the “false allegations and reckless statements” made by attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who filed the two lawsuits against the district on behalf of a student who was shot in the tragedy. November 30 and his sister who witnessed it. Fieger did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
As the controversy over the tragic shooting that scarred the community continues, students at Oxford High School are set to return to their building for lessons for the first time from Monday.
The shooting suspect Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore at the school, was arrested and charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes. He pleaded not guilty.
Charges have also been announced against his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, who were arrested following a manhunt. They were accused of Manslaughter and pleaded not guilty.