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Prosecutor Says Oxford High School Officials Could Face Charges For Failing To Prevent Shooting

Photo: Photo: Youtube
Karen McDonald, Prosecutor, on the left. Oxford High School on the right.

Oxford High School teachers and administrators are facing intense scrutiny after a shooting that killed four people and injured others.

The charged suspect is Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore who had reportedly been gifted his handgun, the weapon by his father only a few days before.

His parents have also been charged with four counts of manslaughter, for their alleged role in allowing the attack to occur.

RELATED: Oxford High School Shooter's Parents James And Jennifer Crumbley Arrested After Manhunt

This being so unusual following a school shooting, many wonder if Oxford High School itself is not far behind, for their own lack of action to prevent the attack.

Will Oxford High School officials face charges for the school shooting?

Oakland County Prosecutor, Karen McDonald, said in a statement to CNN that they “haven't ruled out charging anyone,” so there may be more criminal charges to come.

The victims’ families may also have grounds to file lawsuits against the school for its failure to protect the students.

So, although no charges have been pressed against the school thus far, it might not be far off.

Investigators found that school officials and Ethan's parents allowed him to return to class after a discussion about his behavior on the morning of the shooting.

This was after Ethan was allegedly caught drawing an image of a handgun on his desk. 

However, trying to hold the school district itself legally accountable for an attack like this is usually quite difficult, according to Chuck Vergon, a professor of education law at Youngstown State University, in an interview with the New York Times.

In order for there to be a case against the school or staff members, they must prove that the school officials showed “wanton and willful disregard” for the well-being of the students that allowed this to happen.

Even when there are signs and threats ahead of the attack, it is difficult to prove this level of disregard that would put the school legally at some fault.

So, was there enough evidence for Oxford to reasonably see the threat to the students ahead of time and was there enough for them to reasonably act in prevention of violence and protection for their students?

How Oxford High School failed to prevent the shooting:

As McDonald has stated during a news conference, the school was concerned about his behavior after witnessing disturbing signs of premeditated violence.

In the days leading up to the attack, a teacher had seen Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone and reported this to school officials, said McDonald.

RELATED: Suspected Michigan School Shooter Accused Of Posting Photo Of Victim & Images Inside Cop Car After Shooting

The school informed his mother of this event, but the parents did not seem concerned; his mother simply told him to be more careful not to get caught.

Ethan Crumbley had shown signs that he was a threat on the morning of the shooting.

Then, the morning of the attack, teacher came across a note on Crumbley’s desk that concerned her enough to take a picture of it.

According to McDonald, the note showed “a drawing of semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words ‘the thoughts won’t stop.’ In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet, with the following words above that bullet: ‘blood everywhere.’”

Between the other drawings was also a drawing of a person who had been shot twice and was bleeding above a drawn laughing emoji.

The note reportedly contained other deeply concerning statements, but it is already almost impossible not to read this as a threat of violence.

Immediately following the teacher’s discovery, Crumbley was brought to meet with officials and his parents.

Oxford High School could have searched Ethan Crumbley's backpack.

Despite the evidence to believe that Crumbley was a threat to the school’s safety, they allowed him to go back to class without searching his backpack, which could have contained the gun used in the attack, though it is not yet certain.

According to McDonald, the school officials also had legal grounds to search him, and, although Crumbley’s parents were against taking him home, to require him off campus premises.

And yet, no further action was taken, and it proved to be disastrous.

In McDonald’s statement regarding the possibility of the school being responsible, she stated, “Any individual who had the opportunity to stop this tragedy should have done so. The question is what did they know and when did they know it.”

RELATED: ‘You Will Get Shot': Oxford High Student Shares Alleged Threats That Made Him Stay Home Ahead Of Shooting

Amanda Hartmann is a writer and editorial intern at YourTango who writes on news and entertainment.