Victim’s parents sue school district over Oxford, Michigan shooting

‘We deserve to know what the hell went wrong for something like this to happen,’ says Craig Shilling, whose son was killed in the school shooting last year

Nathan Place
New York
Thursday 26 May 2022 06:53
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Parents of Michigan shooting victim speak out as new lawsuit is filed

As America grapples with the school shooting in Texas, one family is still trying to get justice over last year’s massacre at a high school in Oxford, Michigan.

Justin Shilling, 17, was a senior at Oxford High School when one of his classmates, Ethan Crumbley, is believed to have fatally shot him and three other students in November 2021. Justin’s parents, Craig Shilling and Jill Soave, have now joined a federal lawsuit against their school district, arguing that it failed to prevent the shooting through negligence.

“We deserve to know what the hell went wrong for something like this to happen,” Mr Shilling said at a press conference unveiling the lawsuit on Monday. “This is why we’re here.”

According to the lawsuit, the Oxford Community School District neglected to follow state policies regarding students showing suicidal or homicidal tendencies. The couple’s lawyer, Ven Johnson, says school officials should have called 911 or Child Protective Services immediately after they found disturbing drawings by Crumbley depicting gun violence.

Instead, Mr Johnson says, they sent him back to class without even searching his bag – which police believe contained the murder weapon.

“They gave him the backpack without searching, which we now know had the gun, ammunition, and, if you will, the manifesto,” Mr Johnson said. “They sent him to class, not away from other students.”

Public schools are typically protected by governmental immunity from such lawsuits, but Mr Johnson says in this case the school’s “gross negligence” disqualifies it.

“By following the first step of this policy, that alone could could have prevented this mass murder," Mr Johnson said.

Also killed in the shooting were Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St Juliana, age 14; and Tate Myre, 16. Tate’s parents, William and Sheri Myre, are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

At the press conference, Ms Soave remembered her son as “an old soul” who was “wise and empathetic.” Holding his school accountable for what happened to him, she said, is crucial to honoring his memory.

“I don’t know how his soul can rest if the truth isn’t out,” Ms Soave said.

The Independent has reached out to the Oxford Community School District for comment.

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