The 16-year-old who used a gun purchased by his parents to kill four students and injure seven other people at a Michigan high school last year has pleaded guilty.
In a packed courtroom packed on Monday morning, as several victims’ families looked on, Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to 24 charges: one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm while committing a felony.
The terrorism and murder charges carry up to life without parole or a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years and a maximum sentence of at least 60 years. Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said there was no plea bargaining.
"This is really an important day for the over thousands of people in that community, for the kids in that school, for the parents," McDonald said at a press conference after the hearing. "Today is about some small closure that this is not going to be a trial."
Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, opened fire on Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021. Four students — Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17 — died in the shooting. Six other teenagers were injured, as was a 47-year-old teacher.
Law enforcement received more than a hundred 911 calls about the shooting, authorities said.
The plea deal was first announced on Friday by Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor David Williams. Williams said the county prosecutor's office had notified the victims.
In a rare move, prosecutors also filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the shooter’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, alleging they had "contributed" to the shooting, starting with the purchase of a SIG Sauer 9mm for their son just days before.
Crumbley admitted in court on Monday that he gave his father money to buy the handgun for him, and he picked out which firearm he wanted. He also admitted that the gun was not locked in a container or safe when he obtained it the morning of the shooting.
According to McDonald, the county prosecutor, his parents had ignored multiple attempts from teachers and school staff to reach them with concerns about Ethan Crumbley’s behavior. On the morning of the shooting, they were called to the school by staff alarmed at a note on his desk that had drawings of a handgun and a bleeding person, as well as the words "thoughts won't stop help me" and "blood everywhere."
They were asked to take him home with them after the meeting, but they "resisted the idea" and left school grounds without him, McDonald said.
"These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable, and also send the message that gun owners have a responsibility," she said at the time. "They failed to uphold that responsibility."
Nearly a year after the shooting, the Oxford community, and especially the students, have struggled to recover.
Several victims’ families are suing the shooter’s parents and the school district, accusing teachers and administrators of failing to keep the students safe "at virtually every turn."
Their attorney, Ven Johnson, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the guilty plea is "one small step forward on a long path towards obtaining full justice" for the families.
"We will continue to fight until the truth is revealed about what went wrong leading up to this tragedy, and who, including Crumbley’s parents and multiple Oxford Community Schools employees, could have and should have prevented it," he said.