Macomb educators, students react to Oxford shooting – The Macomb Daily

The mood in Macomb County schools ranged from subdued to on edge as news of a mass homicide in a nearby district set in Wednesday morning.

Ethan Robert Crumbley, an Oxford High School sophomore, faces one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Three students — Madisyn Baldwin, age 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Hana St. Juliana, 14 — died on Tuesday. A fourth student — Justin Shilling, 17, — died Wednesday morning at McLaren Oakland Hospital. In total, 10 students and a teacher were hit by gunfire during the shooting incident which lasted about five minutes, unfolding shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Crumbley, who surrendered to deputies at the scene, was reportedly armed with a loaded 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun his father had purchased days earlier, according to investigators. Deputies recovered 18 live rounds from the suspect when he was taken into custody and also three ammunition magazines. Thirty spent shell casings were found inside the school.

Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. Authorities say a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and wounding seven other people on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Romeo Community Schools in northwestern Macomb County borders Oxford to the east.

Cody Smith, Romeo’s High School athletic director, said no decisions have been made about upcoming athletic contests between the two schools. The Bulldogs are scheduled to play the combined Oxford/Avondale in hockey at 6 p.m. Friday at Suburban Ice Macomb — Romeo’s home rink in Macomb Township.

Oxford is scheduled to play a girls basketball game at Romeo at 7 p.m. Monday.

The Macomb Daily learned Wednesday that a few Romeo teachers who are parents of Oxford students were directly affected as Oxford has cancelled classes for the remainder of the week.

Romeo Superintendent Todd Robinson could not be reached by The Macomb Daily Wednesday.

A girls’ basketball game between Oxford and Fraser scheduled for Tuesday night was cancelled.

In Chippewa Valley Schools, Superintendent Ron Roberts visited Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Township and Dakota High School in Macomb Township. He described the mood at both buildings, two of the largest in the state, as “subdued.”

“The staff and students are very aware of what happened,” he said.  “The students had a very business-like calmness in the hallways. It was that kind of atmosphere.”

Chippewa’s Educational Service Department sent out information to give teachers and parents an idea of how to approach the subject and school safety.

The district has invested in secure entrances, emergency alert systems, security glass, high-tech security cameras, card access systems, and locked perimeter doors during school days, as well as four full-time police resource officers in partnership with the two townships.

In addition, Chippewa Valley students and staff practice emergency drills focused on avoid, deny, and defend procedures.

Roberts said the Oxford incident “hit home” in a way others in the United States didn’t.

“Every time I’ve witnessed one of these situations on TV and in the media, I think ‘that’s traumatic and troubling.’ But this one was different. This one was reported by the local media, the Free Press, Macomb Daily and TV stations. It hit home in a different way, because these are our kids, Michigan kids.

“That’s why we have to never let our guard down in making sure our schools are a safe place for all our children and staff members.”

A similar reaction could be found in the Warren Consolidated Schools, where administrators offered voluntary briefings for teachers then discussed the incident with students and offered support as needed Wednesday.

In the nearby Warren Woods Schools, Tuesday’s incident combined with events that happened at the district middle school a day prior resulted in a procedural change.

Warren Woods Middle School principal Don R.L. Sikora and assistant principal Michelle Voelkler issued a statement Wednesday to parents announcing a change in school policy surrounding backpacks, book bags and purses. Students are still able to bring these items to school, but effective Dec. 1, the items must be kept in the student lockers throughout the day. It stated students would be given ample time between classes to go to their locker and retrieve books and other materials needed for class.

Currently, Warren Woods Middle School policy is that perimeter doors are to remain locked throughout the school day and that all visitors to the school must show a photo identification before entering the school.

On Monday, Warren Woods Middle School administrators were made aware that a student had brought an airsoft gun to school in a backpack and showed it to other students who immediately reported it to school administrators. The situation was addressed by a school resource officer and a statement from Sikora and Voelker reminded students and their families that BB, pellet, airsoft and paintball guns are all considered weapons, according to Warren Woods Schools policy, and are prohibited on school grounds.

One Warren Woods parent said he has taught his children to use their backpack and/or textbooks as a shield should they find themselves in the midst of a dangerous situation during school hours.

The impact of the Oxford incident was not limited to schools. It was also raised by an attorney in Macomb County Circuit Court Wednesday morning.

Attorney Nijad Mehanna, representing murder defendant Dominic Watson, brought up the Oxford incident Wednesday during his opening statement in Macomb Circuit Court.

“It’s a tragedy. It makes you want to value life,” said Mehanna, who has three children. “And I say that to you because it is on my mind right now. My kids are on my mind right now as they go to school today. But I have to set that aside this morning and — if this goes on into tomorrow or how other days it might go into — be able to pay attention to what’s going on in this courtroom to represent this client. And I intend to. So please, do your best to set aside what happened yesterday in Oxford  and pay attention to only the facts of this case and the evidence that will be presented in this case.”

George Pohly, Mitch Hotts, Jameson Cook and Susan Smiley of The Macomb Daily as well as Aileen Wingblad of The Oakland Press contributed to this report.


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