Michigan school shooting: District sent letter to parents dismissing campus ‘threat’ three weeks before attack

Four people were killed and eight others injured when gunfire erupted at Oxford High School in Michigan on Tuesday

Megan Sheets
Wednesday 01 December 2021 16:21
Oxford High School is shown in Oxford, Michigan, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, where authorities say a student opened fire at the school
Oxford High School is shown in Oxford, Michigan, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, where authorities say a student opened fire at the school

Officials at a Michigan high school sent a letter to parents dismissing the existence of safety threats on campus three weeks before a student opened fire on classmates, killing four and wounding eight others.

A 15-year-old sophomore is in custody after allegedly carrying out the shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford Township just before 1pm on Tuesday.

In the wake of the shooting, reports emerged that threats of violence had circulated among the student body in the weeks prior.

Those claims appear to be related to a vague letter administrators sent to parents on 12 November.

“We are aware of the numerous rumors that have been circulating throughout our building this week. We understand that has created some concern for students and parents,” the letter states.

“Please know that we have reviewed every concern shared with us and investigated all information provided. Some rumors have evolved from an incident last week, while others do not appear to have any connection. Student interpretations of social media posts and false information have exacerbated the overall concern.

“We want our parents and students to know there has been no threat to our building nor our students.”

The letter goes on to outline the safety precautions in place at the school, including the presence of counsellors, two “highly-trained” security guards and an Oakland County resource officer.

“Please contact us if you are aware of a specific threat or concern that you have heard directly,” it concludes.

Less than a month after the letter was issued, the campus was faced with a deadly threat: a school shooter.

As panicked parents rushed to locate their children in the chaos after the shooting, one mother claimed that her son had expressed serious concern about trouble brewing on the campus hours earlier.

Robin Redding told the Associated Press her son Treshan Bryant, a 12th grader at the school, opted to stay home on Tuesday because he and his younger cousins had a “bad feeling” that violence could be coming.

Mr Bryant told the outlet he had heard vague threats about plans for a shooting “for a long time now”.

“You’re not supposed to play about that,” he said. “This is real life.”

While investigators have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, Ms Redding said: “This couldn’t be just random.”

Ms Redding didn’t offer details about what her son had heard but shared general concern with safety at the school.

“Kids just, like they’re just mad at each other at this school,” she said.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard denied receiving any prior information about the attack on Tuesday amid claims about threats.

“There was no prior information shared with the Sheriff’s Office or the School Resource Officer before the incident,” Mr Bouchard said in a statement.

Three people were killed and six others injured when gunfire erupted at Oxford High School in Oxford Township just before 1pm local time on Tuesday

Three victims were pronounced dead on Tuesday: Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Hana St Juliana, 14. A fourth victim, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died at a hospital on Wednesday. The injured victims include six students and one teacher.

At a press briefing Tuesday, Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the first emergency call was received at 12.51pm and that the suspect was in custody five minutes later. He added that more than 100 911 calls were made concerning the shooting.

The shooter, who has not been named publicly, was said to have fired more than 15 shots in a section of the school where most history classes are held.

He was taken into custody without incident, Mr McCabe said.

Parents were asked to avoid the campus and to instead meet students leaving the school at the parking lot of a nearby store.

A student named Jacob told WXYZ that his teacher was making calls trying to find out if the lockdown was a drill.

“Moments later he’s like, ‘okay guys, this isn’t a drill’. After hearing this, ... I’m still thinking ‘okay, this is probably a suspicious person, walking around campus, they’ll get them in a minute and it’ll be over,” he said.

He added that he started seeing in various group chats with his friends that people were being shot. “At this point, I have no idea what’s going on,” he said. “We don’t know if there’s a shooter outside our doorway.”

“Our only connection to the outside is, is those group chats. You know, and I’m hearing from people that people got shot, people are hurt, people are running out of the school,” Jacob added.

He said he saw images of “bullet holes in the windows” on social media.

He said that as they were texting their parents, a police officer with a rifle knocked on their classroom door, telling them to get out.

“It was just unbelievable.”

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