Michigan school shooting: Fourth student dies of injuries

Local prosecutor says 15-year-old suspect will face multiple charges, including terrorism and murder.

People take part in a prayer vigil at Lake Point Community Church in Oxford, Michigan, after the shooting at a local high school, November 30, 2021 [Seth Herald/Reuters]

A fourth student has died of injuries suffered during a mass shooting earlier this week at a high school in the US state of Michigan that prompted widespread mourning and calls to curb gun violence in the United States.

Justin Shilling, 17, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Oakland County, northwest of Detroit, on Wednesday, the local sheriff’s office said.

That brings the death toll from Tuesday’s shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, to four.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s office earlier had confirmed that three other students were killed in the attack, identifying them as Hana St Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Tate Myre, 16. Seven other people, including a teacher, were injured.

Authorities on Wednesday also identified the suspect as Ethan Crumbley.

The 15-year-old high school sophomore has been charged with terrorism, murder and several other felony offences. He was charged as an adult due to the seriousness of the crime, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald told reporters.

“We are charging this individual with 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 in the commission of a felony,” McDonald said.

She added that additional charges could be filed as the investigation continues, including against both of the suspect’s parents.

“To prevent further tragedies like the one we witnessed yesterday and at large, we have got to address responsible gun ownership in this country and in Oakland County,” McDonald said.

Crumbley appeared in court via video feed later on Wednesday, entering an automatic non-guilty plea as he chose to remain silent. Judge Nancy Carniak denied him bail and ordered him transferred to a county jail from the juvenile facility where he has been held since his arrest.

‘Unspeakable and unforgivable’

Late on Tuesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the weapon used by the suspect – a handgun – was bought by the teenager’s father days before the shooting.

“[The] preliminary investigation revealed that the weapon used in the shooting was purchased November 26 – four days ago – by the boy’s father,” Bouchard told reporters.

He said the suspect came out of a school toilet with the weapon, but that authorities are looking to determine exactly where he started his rampage.

“This touches us all personally and deeply … This wound will never go away, and we understand that,” said Bouchard, describing the shooting as an “unspeakable and unforgivable” event.

“But we also want the community to know that we’re here for them, and we will leave no stone unturned in determining all the things that led up to it and making sure that this investigation is full and complete before it’s turned over to hold this individual accountable.”

Authorities are still investigating the motive of the suspect, who is refusing to speak to law enforcement agents, the sheriff said.

Local and national officials have expressed condolences and outrage after the shooting.

“This is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said at a news conference near the high school on Tuesday evening.

Whitmer called for action against gun violence but declined to discuss policy specifics, saying that the immediate focus should be on the victims and people affected in the community. “This is a uniquely American problem that we need to address,” she said.

US Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who represents Oxford, said the shooting highlights the “deep need” for mental health services.

She added that before returning to Michigan from Washington, DC, she spoke to fellow Congress members whose districts also had experienced school shootings.

“It’s just obviously a deeply dark day in Michigan’s history,” Slotkin said at a news conference late on Tuesday. “The trend that we’ve seen all over the country has come to us. We had all hoped that it would not.”

Source: Al Jazeera