Lawyer claims Michigan school shooting suspect showed violent warning signs months before massacre

The attorney claims the school ignored obvious warning signs

Graig Graziosi
Friday 23 September 2022 22:09 BST

Related video: Sheriff says Ethan Crumbley was ‘looking forward to’ mass shooting

An attorney representing the families of children killed in a mass shooting at Michigan's Oxford High School in November 2021 has claimed that accused shooter Ethan Crumbley showed violent tendencies months before the attack.

Ven Johnson, the attorney representing the families, shared the information about Mr Crumbley during a press conference on Thursday.

“Oxford Community Schools, as you all know, has done nothing but cover up and conceal this information from not just the public [and] to my clients obviously who have sustained losses unbearable for most of us to even think about,” he said.

Law & Crime reports that Mr Johnson is representing the relatives of Tate Myre and Justin Shilling, who were two of the four students killed in the shooting. The other two students who died are Hana St Juliana and Madisyn Baldwin.

He claimed there were numerous warning signs ahead of the shooting, and claimed the school district ignored the warning signs "adding insult to injury."

“What we now know is this: from literally the beginning of school, Ethan Crumbley was evidence and signs of being [a] highly troubled individual to stay the least,” he said.

The attorney showed a piece of evidence at the press conference which appeared to be a notecard with a sketch drawn on it. Mr Johnson claims the notecard included a picture Mr Crumbley drew of himself holding a gun, which he gave to a teacher. He claimed that the gun was later erased. In the image of the card, the figure's arms appear to have no hands.

Mr Johnson said the card was turned in as part of an introductory assignment around the first day of school in which students were asked to tell the teacher "a little bit about yourself" including "what you like" and "what you don't like."

The teacher reportedly did not look at the card until the day before the shooting in November of last year. Mr Johnson was sceptical of that claim.

“So, even though he drew it and he gave it to her, she claims she didn’t look at it, so I would just ask us to think about that,” he said.

The teacher reportedly admitted that an image drawn to the left of the figure could be a sketch of a firearm magazine. She claimed in a deposition she would have done something had she seen the card earlier.

Mr Johnson reiterated that the notecard was turned in on one of the "first days of school."

The attorney also shared an email between a Spanish teacher at the school and one of its counselors that raised concerns about Mr Crumbley.

Mr Crumbley was reportedly given an assignment to make an autobiographical sketch and responded by writing that he "feels terrible and that his family is a mistake."

The Spanish teacher said Mr Crumbley had "unusual responses for sure."

According to Mr Johnson, the counselor spoke with the teacher but not with Mr Crumbley. During a deposition, the counselor, Shawn Hopkins, said he did not pursue the issue because he believed the response was simply to the assignment and not a reflection of Mr Crumbley's personal feelings.

The attorney was also skeptical of this, saying the assignment was described as "autobiographical."

The teacher reportedly sent the counselor another email just 20 days before the shooting saying Mr Crumbley was "having a rough time right now."

Mr Hopkins reportedly pulled Mr Crumbley out of class and offered to help him, but Mr Crumbley's only response was "okay."

Mr Johnson claimed that Mr Hopkins "did virtually nothing."

He also pointed out that the day before the shooting, English teacher Jacquelyn Kubina emailed the school's Dean of Students and Assistant Principal Nicholas Ejak and another official named Pam Fine that she found Mr Crumbley looking at bullets on his phone.

Ms Kubina said that Mr Crumbley was "on my radar" but could not follow up on the issue because it occurred at the end of her class period.

In that exchange she also warned that Mr Crumbely's work thus far in the class "leans a bit toward the violent side," which made her "concerned."

Mr Johnson claimed the school officials failed to follow up on the English teacher's concerns.

On the day of the shooting, Allison Karpinski, a special education teacher, found Mr Crumbley watching violent video on his phone. She sent an email to Mr Hopinks and Ms Fine about the incident.

“Today he’s watching videos on his phone of a guy gunning down people,” Mr Johnson said of the email. “It looks like a movie scene and not security footage/a real event, but definitely concerning when taking into account some of his other behaviors.”

Mr Crumbley is being tried as an adult and has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. His parents have also been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter relating to the attack. All three have pleaded not guilty.

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