Michigan school shooting: Cops crack down on ‘copycat threats’ and fake Ethan Crumbley social media accounts

Crumbley’s real social media accounts were removed from public view shortly after his arrest at Oxford High School

Megan Sheets
Friday 03 December 2021 16:33
Oxford school shooting: Ethan Crumbley appears in court accused of ‘methodically’ gunning down fellow students

Several social media accounts pretending to be suspect Ethan Crumbley have cropped up in the wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting in Michigan.

Mr Crumbley’s accounts were removed from public view shortly after his arrest at Oxford High School, only to be replaced by imposters posing as him in a bid to spread misinformation, police say.

It comes as dozens of high schools across Michigan have cancelled in-person classes this week due to “copycat threats” circulating online.

Michigan State Police Lt addressed the fake accounts on Thursday and acknowledged that the people behind them are not technically committing a crime.

“Unfortunately, poor taste is not against the law,” he told the Detroit Free Press.

Follow live updates on the Michigan school shooting

One of the accounts on Instagram reportedly promised to boost other users’ profiles if they pay $5 for a “cheap promo”.

“I get a LOT of story views,” the user said.

Another account in Mr Crumbley’s name allegedly posted photos of someone abusing animals.

A spokesperson for Instagram’s parent company, Meta, confirmed those two accounts did not belong to Mr Crumbley, the Free Press reported.

Mr Shaw said that police are referring sham accounts to prosecutors for review.

While the accounts themselves are not illegal, any threats made through them could result in criminal charges.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard vowed to crack down on a flood of copycat threats at a press conference on Thursday.

More than 60 schools statewide have cancelled in-person classes this week as a result of the threats, including half of the schools in Oakland County.

Mr Bouchard said he has asked the FBI and the Secret Service to help his department investigate each threat.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said anyone found to have made false threats could be charged with misdemeanour malicious use of a telephone or felony false threat of terrorism, which is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, is seen in his booking photo

In neighbouring Macomb County, northeast of Detroit, Sheriff Anthony Wickersham on said his office received 28 complaints about threats to schools in a 24-hour period after the Oxford shooting.

“What we’re finding is there’s two ways [that threats] are happening,” Mr Wickersham told FOX 2 Detroit. “One is everybody is aware of what happened and is believing that it could happen in their school and they’re thinking about a moment when somebody may have said something off-colour, may have made a remark about hurting somebody, and they’re now reporting those [threats].”

The sheriff said it’s not uncommon for copycat threats to follow an incident like that which occurred at Oxford High School on Tuesday. However, he emphasised the importance of taking each threat seriously.

On Wednesday, a 17-year-old student was arrested for bringing a gun to his school in Southfield, about 30 miles south of Oxford.

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren announced the arrest on Thursday, saying: “We’ve submitted a warrant request to the prosecutor’s office seeking a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.”

He said the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, which is also handling Mr Crumbley’s case, has not decided whether to charge the teen as a minor or an adult.

Mr Crumbley allegedly used his real Instagram account to post an apparent countdown the night before the shooting, writing:

The 15-year-old is currently jailed on 24 charges, including one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of assault with intent to kill.

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