Could Michigan school officials face criminal charges?

Midwest

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NewsNation Now) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said “anything is possible” when it comes to potential criminal charges for the school officials who were aware of alarming behavior before the shooting last week that left four students dead and six other students and a teacher wounded.

“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions because again, we don’t have that information at this point,” Nessel said during a one-on-one interview with NewsNation’s Brian Entin. “But that is a big part of the investigation. People want to make sure that these questions are answered.”

Nessel said Sunday that her office could conduct an investigation into events at Oxford High School that occurred before the school shooting after the Michigan district’s superintendent called for an outside investigation.

“As soon as I saw they were seeking a third party to do an alleged independent review, I immediately contacted their attorney to say the department of attorney general here in Michigan will conduct that review,” Nessel said. “And why that is so important is really a variety of issues. Firstly, as you have identified, is it really an independent review when it’s the district that has paid your bill and is hiring you in order to conduct the review.”

Many people are calling for a full investigation into the school response, especially after it became known that the student charged in the shooting was put back into the classroom after a disturbing note he had written was found.

On Tuesday, a teacher found the note on Ethan Crumbley’s desk and took a photo. It was a drawing of a gun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said.

There also was a drawing of a bullet, she said, with words above it: “Blood everywhere.” Between the gun and the bullet was a person who appeared to have been shot twice and is bleeding, she said. “My life is useless” and “The world is dead” also were written.

Ethan Crumbley and both his parents met with school officials at 10 a.m. Tuesday. His parents left, and Ethan went back to his classes with his backpack, where investigators believe he stashed the gun.

In a statement Saturday, Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne elaborated on the events of Tuesday morning, saying the student was taken to the guidance counselor’s office, where he claimed the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and that he planned to pursue video game design as a career. He worked on homework while waiting for his parents as counselors watched him.

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

“While both of his parents were present, counselors asked specific probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others,” Throne said, adding counseling was recommended for him, and his parents were notified that they had 48 hours to seek it. “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.”

He said that the student had no prior disciplinary infractions so he was allowed to return to the classroom instead of being “sent home to an empty house.”

Entin asked Nessel what could happen if the school district declines her offer to investigate what happened.

“Well, technically, I do have criminal jurisdiction in every county in the state of Michigan,” Nessel responded. “I plan to meet with the parents in the community, find out a little bit about what their feelings are, what their thoughts are, what questions they have, that they’d like to see answered. We might end up doing it irrespective but we are not at that point yet.”

Nessel said she will meet with community members Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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