School shooting suspect told counselors alarming drawings were for video game, superintendent says

A teacher reported the drawings hours before the fatal shooting.

December 04, 2021, 5:57 PM

The suspect in the deadly shooting at a Michigan high school reportedly told school guidance counselors that the alarming drawings his teacher discovered the morning of Tuesday's massacre were for a video game he was designing, school officials said.

Hours before authorities allege 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley fired his father's semi-automatic handgun in the hallway of Oxford High School, killing four and wounding seven, a teacher saw a note on his desk with a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, "The thoughts won't stop, help me," prosecutors said.

Another section depicted a drawing of a bullet with the words "Blood everywhere" above it, and a drawing of a bleeding person who appeared to have been shot twice, according to prosecutors.

PHOTO: The Oakland County Sheriff's Office released the booking photo on Dec. 1, 2021, for Ethan Crumbley, 15.
The Oakland County Sheriff's Office released the booking photo on Dec. 1, 2021, for Ethan Crumbley, 15.
Oakland County Sheriff's Office

After the teacher found the note, Crumbley was removed from the classroom and his parents were called to the school, prosecutors said.

Crumbley reportedly told school guidance counselors that the "concerning" drawings were for a video game he was designing, and that he intended to pursue video game design as a career, Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne said in a lengthy message to the school community Saturday.

As they waited for the arrival of his parents -- whom Throne notes "were difficult to reach" -- Crumbley sat in the counselors' office doing homework for 90 minutes while the staff "continued to observe, analyze and speak" with him.

"At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm," Throne said.

When his parents showed up, counselors "asked specific and probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others," according to Throne. The answers from Crumbley and his parents led the counselors to believe there was no threat of violence, to himself or to others, the superintendent said.

"The student’s parents never advised the school district that he had direct access to a firearm or that they had recently purchased a firearm for him," Throne said.

Throne also noted that "whether or not the gun was in his backpack has not been confirmed by law enforcement to our knowledge nor by our investigation at this time."

PHOTO: In this Nov. 30, 2021, file photo, police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following a shooting, in Oxford, Mich.
In this Nov. 30, 2021, file photo, police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following a shooting, in Oxford, Mich.
Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images, FILE

At the meeting, his parents were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours.

"When the parents were asked to take their son home for the day, they flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work," Throne said.

The lack of a disciplinary record led staff to send Crumbley back to class "rather than … to an empty house," Throne said.

Throne said he has asked for a third-party investigation of all of Crumbley's communication with students and staff leading up to the shooting.

Crumbley has been charged as an adult in connection with the shooting, which prosecutors allege was premeditated. The charges include four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of assault with intent to murder. A judge entered a not guilty plea for him during his first court appearance Wednesday.

The teen is being held in jail in isolation on suicide watch "out of an abundance of caution," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said during a briefing Saturday.

PHOTO: A memorial outside of Oxford High School continues to grow on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
A memorial outside of Oxford High School continues to grow on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

When asked by a reporter if investigators have found any evidence that indicated the shooting was going to happen, Bouchard said, "We have clear evidence this was premeditated and he was actually looking forward to it."

Crumbley's parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, have also been charged in connection with the shooting. Prosecutors allege James Crumbley bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol used in the attack.

They each pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter Saturday morning in their first hearing since being taken into custody in the middle of the night after allegedly hiding in Detroit.

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