Oxford school shooting victim offers emotional testimony on seeing classmates shot: 'I just prayed'

Students and a teacher took the stand in a hearing for Ethan Crumbley.

July 28, 2023, 1:15 PM

Victims of the 2021 Oxford school shooting in Michigan appeared in court to give emotional testimony Friday in a hearing that will determine whether the shooter, Ethan Crumbley, could be sentenced to life in prison or have the possibility of parole.

The hearing -- called a Miller hearing -- is being held due to Crumbley's age. He was just 15 at the time of the shooting, and juveniles in the state of Michigan are not automatically sentenced to life without parole like adults for first-degree murder. A separate hearing will be held for his sentencing.

Crumbley, who pleaded guilty to killing four fellow students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school, appeared in court for the hearing that began Thursday.

Heidi Allen, a 17-year-old survivor of the Oxford High School shooting, took the stand on Friday to testify about seeing the shooter enter the hallway and shoot several students, some fatally.

PHOTO: Spectators react during a hearing, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich., as they view video of the Oxford, Mich., High School shooting.
Spectators react during a hearing, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich., as they view video of the Oxford, Mich., High School shooting.
Carlos Osorio/AP

Allen -- a 10th grader at the time of the shooting -- was headed to the bathroom when she came across the shooter.

Allen said she recognized the shooter as soon as he entered the hallway, having known him since middle school, but said the two were never friends. Allen said she couldn't believe it was Crumbley when she saw him waving the gun.

"I just didn't understand how somebody could do something like that," Allen said.

Crumbley then opened fire on all the students in the hall, including 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin -- who were both killed in the shooting -- and 14-year-old Phoebe Arthur -- who was injured.

"I saw Phoebe get shot, I saw her boyfriend [get shot], then I saw a group of girls [get shot], then I looked away," Allen said.

"I just prayed and I covered my head because I didn't know if those were my last moments," Allen said.

Allen said that she dropped to the floor and didn't raise her head until she felt Crumbley walk or run past her.

"It was very quiet. There was no screaming nothing. It was just the gunshots," Allen said.

When she opened her eyes she saw two girls "just laying there" in the hall and another girl in front of her. Allen said she asked everyone if they were OK and only Arthur responded.

"I asked everybody in the hallway from where I was at if anybody had been hit and nobody had answered me because they couldn't," Allen said.

PHOTO: Ethan Crumbley sits in court, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich.
Ethan Crumbley sits in court, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP

Arthur, who was shot in the neck and chest, began to cry in the hall and started bleeding, Allen said. Allen said she helped Arthur into an empty classroom and locked the door, putting pressure on her wounds and trying to keep her awake.

"There was just blood everywhere," Allen said. "Blood on her clothes. And then it was starting to get on me, but we didn't know where it was coming from."

"I thought maybe it wasn't her arm but then she took her shirt off and it was right on her chest area. And then there was another shot I believe on her neck. And so I immediately took her sweater and I put pressure on it because it's all I know how to do. I don't know how to handle that stuff," Allen said.

The two girls then called their parents while they waited for police to come.

"I just kept reassuring her that she would be OK," Allen said.

"Then I started to pray with her because I didn't know what else to do," Allen said.

Student survives confrontation with Crumbley in bathroom

Keegan Gregory, 16, who was a freshman at the time of the shooting, testified in the hearing that he was in the bathroom where 17-year-old Justin Shilling was shot and killed by Crumbley.

Gregory testified that the two started hearing gunshots from outside the bathroom door. Gregory said Shilling told him to come into the bathroom stall and stand on the toilet so Crumbley could not see them if they walked in.

"Before the shooter kicked open the stall, when we heard the shots close, [Shilling] told me that when we hear them further away, we're gonna run," Gregory said.

Crumbley then went into the bathroom and kicked in the door to the stall where the two were hiding. Crumbley then walked out of the stall but remained in the bathroom, Gregory said.

Still in the stall, Gregory and Shilling tried to see if Crumbley was still in the bathroom only to find him still there. Crumbley then told Gregory to stay put and told Shilling to come outside the stall with him, which he did, Gregory said.

Gregory said he did not hear Shilling fight or struggle with Crumbley.

"It was quiet for a second and then I heard a shot," Gregory said.

Not long after the shot, Crumbley went back into the stall and told Gregory to go out with him.

Outside the stall, Gregory said he saw "Justin's body in a pool of blood."

"He kind of signaled me to go over by Justin's body," Gregory said.

Gregory testified that when Crumbley moved the gun away, Gregory ran out of the bathroom and down the hall and to the office, making several turns in case Crumbley was following him.

In the hall, Gregory said he saw "another body with someone bent over it."

"I just kept on running as fast as I could," Gregory said.

Assistant principal tried to save student

Kristy Gibson-Marshall, an assistant principal at Oxford High School, took the stand to testify about finding a student shot on the ground and seeing Crumbley walk past her in the hall during the shooting.

On the day of the shooting, Gibson-Marshall -- who was previously the assistant principal of the elementary school Crumbley attended -- said she saw students running down the hall minutes before the school went into lockdown.

Gibson-Marshall, who was still in the hall when the school went into lockdown, testified that she did not hunker down in a classroom and continued walking down the hall because she wanted to help students.

Gibson-Marshall said she heard what she now knows were gunshots and walked toward the sounds, before coming across Crumbley in the hall.

"In my head, I needed to go help," Gibson-Miller said.

Gibson-Marshall testified that she saw Crumbley putting his arm down from shoulder-length height and she continued to walk toward him.

"I just thought it couldn't be Ethan. He wouldn't do that," Gibson-Marshall said.

Gibson-Marshall, who could see a student down on the ground, said she asked Crumbley if he was OK and he looked away from her and continued walking past her.

Gibson-Marshall said she went to help the student, rolling him over only to discover that it was 16-year-old Tate Myre, who was fatally shot in the back of the head. Gibson-Miller said she had known Myre since he was 3 years old because he had been coming to the school with his mother.

"It was crushing and I had to help him, just save him for his mom," Gibson-Miller said.

Gibson-Marshall testified that she immediately started to provide emergency care to Myre, taking his vitals and checking his pulse. She testified that Myre still had a pulse when she found him and she attempted to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"There was so much blood. It was all over me," Gibson-Miller said. "It took me months, almost a year, to get the taste of Tate's blood out of my mouth."

After Crumbley was taken into custody, Myre was taken out of the building.

After completing her testimony, Gibson-Marshall tearfully embraced family members in the courtroom.

Teacher testifies on being shot

Molly Darnell -- a teacher at Oxford High School who was working as an administrator on the day of the shooting -- was the first to give emotional testimony Thursday, recalling making eye contact with Crumbley moments before she was shot.

Darnell testified that she was trying to attach a lock to the door of a classroom she uses as an office after a lockdown began on the day of the shooting, when she made eye contact with Crumbley through the glass in the door. He then shot three bullets in her direction.

PHOTO: Educator Molly Darnell describes where she was shot by Ethan Crumbley during a hearing, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich.
Educator Molly Darnell describes where she was shot by Ethan Crumbley during a hearing, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP

She was struck by one of the bullets as she jumped away from the door, with the bullet going through her arm.

"I remember thinking in my head, 'No orange tip.' I had heard previously that BB guns have an orange tip on them -- so my thought was no orange tip and that's when I jumped to the side, to my right," Darnell said.

Not yet realizing she was shot, Darnell tried to block the door with a filing cabinet but she said it was too heavy to move.

"I got down on my hands and knees and I crawled back and I dropped that lock in and then I grabbed the rolling cabinet and I shoved it against the door on the wall," Darnell said.

"I was still in disbelief that I had been shot, but what I knew was I was bleeding," Darnell said.

Still under lockdown, Darnell texted her husband telling him she loved him, told her daughter she was safe and exchanged messages with other staff in the building. Darnell remained in her office until police came to the door and escorted her out of the building.