Oakland County prosecutors identified the suspect on Wednesday as 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at Oxford High School. He is being charged as an adult with 24 counts, including four counts of murder, one count of terrorism, seven counts of assault with intent to murder.
The massacre left four students dead, all of them between the ages of 14 and 17, and wounded several others, including a teacher.
Hours before the shooting, Mr Crumbley penned what’s been perceived as a “countdown” on social media, according to Fox 2 Detroit.
“Now I become death – destroyer of worlds – see you tomorrow Oxford,” a post on his since-deleted Instagram account on Monday allegedly read.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said the weapon Mr Crumbley used was a 9mm Sig Sauer pistol, which had been “purchased by the father four days prior to the incident.”
According to several news reports, Mr Crumbley posted a photo of that gun on Instagram about a week before the shooting.
“Just got my new beauty today,” the teenager wrote in the caption, according to the Daily Mail.
Police have confirmed that Mr Crumbley shared the photo.
“He had been shooting with it and posted pictures of a target and the weapon,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard told CNN. “That’s all part of what’s being looked at. We’re going to do a deep dive on the social media and all the activities of this young man.”
Mr Crumbley’s social media pages have been taken down since the shooting, but several news outlets and online forums have managed to dig up screenshots of his posts. In one disturbing image, reported by The Sun, Mr Crumbley appeared to share a “countdown to return of devil.”
Little is known about what motivated the shooting. Mr Crumbley, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, was arrested on Tuesday without resistance. Police say he has stayed silent about the incident so far, and asked for a lawyer soon after he was taken into custody.
“The next few days are going to be key to see what caused this individual to do this,” former FBI agent Andy Arena told Fox 2. “What was he looking at, what was he searching, what was he reading? Those type of things. It will give us a clearer picture to see what was in his mind and what drove him to do this horrific act.”
The phrase “now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” is originally from the Bhagavad Gita, one of the scriptures in Hinduism. It was famously quoted by the American scientist Robert Oppenheimer in reference to his work on the development of the atomic bomb.
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