Oxford High School Mass shooting: Who is to Blame?

By Lochlin Emmerson

On November 30th, 2021, a 15-year-old student named Ethan Crumbley opened fire in Oxford High School, the school of which he attended. He killed four of his classmates and injured eight others. It is believed that Ethan fired upwards of 15 shots while walking the halls and tugging on classroom door knobs. Ethan fired the first shots in the hallway as students were traveling to their next class, putting hundreds in harm’s way. Although, within five minutes of the first shots being fired, Ethan was placed in police custody. Subsequently, news broke that Ethan’s parents are going to be charged. Usually, parents of shooters are completely unaware of their child’s actions or intent, but this time, it was different. 

So, what happened?

Ethan Crumbley made his cries for help obvious, however, his parents were dismissive of his psychotic behavior. Ethan’s parents purchased him a gun on Black Friday, as an early Christmas gift and kept it in an unlocked box. Ethan then posted pictures of the gun on social media captioned “My new beauty.”

On the Monday following American Thanksgiving, Ethan was spotted searching for gun ammunition online. When his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley were notified by the school, Jennifer sent her son a text saying “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

The night before the shooting, Ethan posted “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford.” on his social media account.

Hours before the shooting, Ethan was caught drawing violent and disturbing images of guns, dead people, and pools of blood. Alongside those drawings, he wrote “the thoughts won’t stop. help me.” , “blood everywhere”, “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.” It is also believed that Ethan brought the head of a baby bird to school in a jar and left it in the bathroom. The school notified his parents immediately and told them to send Ethan to counseling. James and Jennifer Crumbley shut down the idea and walked out of Oxford High School without their son. Or the gun they had yet to discover in his backpack. The shooting would be carried out a few hours later.

So who is to blame in this situation? Ethan for the shooting, his school for allowing him to stay there, or his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, for not taking action?

I blame Ethan’s parents. In saying that, I am in no way trying to defend Ethan, I just believe that his parents were fully aware of their son’s behavior. They received warnings and alerts on multiple occasions, and instead of getting him help, they bought him a gun and kept it in an easily-accessible drawer. 

On December 9th, 2021, Geoffrey and Brandi Franz, parents of one of the shooting victims, filed a lawsuit, suing the Eastern District of Michigan for 100 million dollars. The Fanzes said that the shooting was easily preventable, as parents and students voiced their concerns about Ethan Crumbley weeks before the shooting occurred. One of the two Franz children was shot in the neck, but survived, and the other was left traumatized.

As of December 30th, 2021, Ethan and both of his parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are being held in jail as well as attending court. Ethan is being held in an adult facility.

Oxford High School has added School Resource Officers, therapy dogs, trauma specialists, and security. They are also forcing students to wear clear backpacks to school. 

The investigation is still ongoing.