In a stunning move, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Michigan has charged 17-year-old Austin Wallace with first degree murder and terrorism charges for his involvement in last week’s deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that left one dead and 12 others wounded including five students.
The terrified kids then blocked doors, called for assistance, and gathered anything they could in case they needed to fight back.
He described how a bullet punctured one of the tables they’d placed to block the entrance. “We grabbed calculators, we grabbed scissors just in case the gunman came in and we had to assault them,” he added.
Freshman Mark Kluska heard a lockdodwn announced over the school’s loudspeakers while in a sign language lesson. His instructor locked the door and used a metal doorstop to secure it.
“When I started hearing screams, I realized it was true,” Kluska told CNN.
According to a video taken by the student, someone outside the room claiming to be from the sheriff’s office assured Kluska and his classmates that everything was OK and that they may come out.
“Right now, we’re not willing to take that chance,” the instructor responds.
The identity of the individual who answered the door is unknown. But, according to Kluska, the instructor swiftly instructed kids to climb out a first-floor window into the snow. They dashed across a courtyard to another section of the building, where they were herded to safety by a law enforcement officer.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard verified that the suspect never knocked on any doors.
More than a hundred 911 calls were made. Officers located a 15-year-old suspect, subsequently identified as Ethan Crumbley, and brought him into custody without incident about two to three minutes after arriving, according to Bouchard.
Crumbley has been charged with terrorism-related death and four counts of first-degree murder as an adult. According to Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald, he was additionally charged with seven charges of assault with intent to kill and 12 counts of possession of a handgun during the commission of a crime.
At the arraignment on Wednesday, the suspect’s lawyer submitted a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf. A probable cause hearing has been set for December 13 and a preliminary examination hearing has been set for December 20.
Lt. Tim Willis said two distinct recordings were retrieved from the accused shooter’s smartphone during Crumbley’s arraignment on Wednesday, in which he bragged of shooting and murdering pupils the following day at Oxford High School.
In addition to the smartphone, Willis claimed he found a notebook in Crumbley’s bag that detailed his “want to shoot up the school.”
One of the victims was a 14-year-old boy.
Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17, were the four teenagers who perished, according to officials.
According to the sheriff’s office, Justin died in a hospital on Wednesday morning, while the others perished on Tuesday. Tate died in a police vehicle while being transported to the hospital, according to Bouchard.
Shilling’s former workplace, Anita’s Kitchen, issued a statement about him on social media.
“Justin was an outstanding employee, a loyal friend and coworker, co-captain of his bowling team, and a joy to be around. At this terrible moment, our sympathies are with his family and friends “According to the statement,
According to Bouchard, seven people were shot, including six pupils and a teacher.
A 14-year-old girl was among the injured, according to Bouchard, who was on a ventilator after surgery. She was taken off the ventilator on Wednesday and was said to be in stable health. A gunshot wound to the jaw and head was sustained by a 14-year-old kid. According to Bouchard, the instructor, a 15-year-old boy, and a 17-year-old boy were all released.
Charges against parents are a possibility.
According to a CNN calculation, the incident was the bloodiest US school shooting since eight students and two teachers were killed in May 2018 at Texas’ Santa Fe High School. This year, there have been 48 shootings on K-12 campuses, 32 of which have occurred since August 1.
A juvenile jail center was holding the suspect. Authorities urged a court to move Bouchard from the holding facility to the Oakland County Jail, according to Bouchard. The request was granted by the court.
Premeditation is required for first-degree murder charges, and evidence in this instance shows that the killing was planned “long before the occurrence,” according to McDonald.
McDonald told reporters that the attack was “definitely deliberate,” but did not elaborate.
The suspect’s parents will be investigated by McDonald’s office, she added.
The gun used in the shooting, a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semiautomatic handgun, was bought by Crumbley’s father on Friday, four days before the school shooting, according to Bouchard.
Authorities are contemplating charging both parents, and McDonald said that a decision would be made “swiftly.” The parents’ gun ownership may result in prosecution. McDonald said that this included properly securing it and ensuring that ammunition is kept separate, among other legal obligations.
“Those who don’t do it must be held responsible,” she added.
CNN has asked the prosecutor to say if evidence was found to support prospective charges, as well as which charges are being explored. The prosecutor refused to comment more, citing the ongoing investigation, but said that an announcement on whether or not charges will be filed would be made as soon as feasible.
CNN has sought to contact Ethan Crumbley’s parents and is seeking to locate a counsel for them.
On Wednesday, McDonald told CNN’s Erin Burnett that she thought it was terrible that people had become numb to gun violence, but that gun owners should be held responsible for their purchase and use of a handgun.
Hours before the incident, the suspect and his parents met with school authorities.
Prior to the incident, the 15-year-old had not been on police enforcement’s radar, according to Bouchard.
After the incident, investigators discovered that the suspect and his parents had visited with school administrators a few hours before the attack. Officials spoke with the suspect alone the day before the shooting and with the suspect and his parents the day of the incident, according to Bouchard.
“The day before, there was a meeting with school employees regarding some troubling conduct, and the day of, there was a meeting with school officials and parents about a separate issue,” Bouchard said.
On both days, the sheriff refused to comment on the concerns.
“There was no contact or nothing on his file by either about behavior or discipline prior to those two encounters,” he claimed.
McDonald told CNN that she couldn’t speak on what the gunman, parents, and school authorities spoke about during their meeting.
“There’s another piece of evidence that hasn’t been revealed yet,” she continued, “but I can guarantee you it was uncomfortable, upsetting, and sadly he was permitted to return to class.”
According to the sheriff, the gunman ‘was shooting individuals at close range.’
Investigators found more than 30 shot casings, according to the sheriff, who had previously said that at least a dozen rounds had been fired.
He claimed, “We think he fired at least 30 rounds.”
Investigators seized two 15-round magazines and a third in the nighttime hours, according to Bouchard. Investigators also discovered that the guy had 18 bullets remained in his gun, seven of which were in his pocket.
“With this much ammo remaining on him, the school’s rapid steps and lockdown, as well as the deputies who went to the threat, saved lives,” Bouchard added.
Bouchard told CNN’s “New Day” early Wednesday that video from the school showed the perpetrator “killing victims at close range — frequently toward the head or chest.”
“It’s terrifying. It’s ruthless, deadly, and heartless “Bouchard said.
During Crumbley’s arraignment, prosecutors said they saw footage from school security cameras showing Crumbley “methodically and intentionally” wandering the halls, pointing a revolver at pupils, and shooting.
“Honestly, judge, I don’t have the words to convey how horrible what was displayed on that video was,” prosecutor Marc Keast said.
Authorities claimed video showed Crumbley entering the restroom with a bag and leaving a minute later with the backpack removed and a pistol in hand.
He began firing outside the lavatory, but as children fled, he proceeded down the corridor at a “methodical pace,” shooting into classrooms and at pupils who hadn’t been able to flee, according to Keast. This carried on for another four or five minutes, after which he proceeded to another restroom, according to Keast.
He put down the gun and surrendered when cops arrived.
“A preliminary investigation of the defendant’s social media accounts, his smartphone, and other recorded evidence collected on site indicates that this defendant planned this shooting, that he brought the pistol that day with the goal to kill as many kids as possible,” Keast said.
Despite the fact that most of the shooting took place at close range, Bouchard told CNN that it seemed “random.”
The intruder “attempted to penetrate classroom doors,” according to the sheriff.
“He actually shot through a few of the blocked doors that I examined at last night. Shots were fired at several of the barriers “Bouchard said.
Bouchard complimented his deputies’ and other local law enforcement agencies’ efforts on Tuesday, saying their collaboration and active shooter training were crucial.
Deputies arrived to the school at 12:52 p.m., and the suspect was taken into custody three minutes later, according to Bouchard.
As deputies made their way into the school, they came upon the suspect, who raised his hands, according to Bouchard. Deputies seized the pistol and arrested the suspect.
“I think they really saved lives,” the sheriff stated, referring to the fact that the suspect was brought down with a loaded handgun still in the premises.
‘We think we have some texts that contain his ideas,’ says the researcher.
“We think we have some papers that include some of his ideas,” Bouchard said of the inquiry into a motivation, adding that he didn’t know if the writings revealed purpose right away.
Investigators have examined the school and executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence, he added. Authorities have confiscated a phone and are investigating other things seized.
According to Bouchard, Michigan law prohibits police from speaking with a minor without parental consent, and the parents have declined that authorization and demanded a lawyer.
“So, although we can’t obtain the motivation from the person we have in custody, we believe we can acquire a lot of helpful information about how and why this happened. We’ve retrieved some evidence, which we’re currently poring through “Bouchard explained.
Authorities are also looking into images of a target and the weapon that the suspect uploaded on social media, he said.
‘I’m going to text my family and tell them how much I adore them.’
Students and instructors used strategies they’d taught in active shooter exercises to defend themselves as hundreds of law enforcement officials rushed the campus on Tuesday.
Undersheriff Michael McCabe remarked, “This district has been extremely outstanding in preparing its employees and pupils on active shooters.”
Moises Cortez, Kluska’s instructor, acted quickly when a lockdown was announced over the school’s loudspeakers, according to a student who captured footage of his friends fleeing via a window.
“He sealed the door and placed a metal doorstopper in front of it so no one could kick it open.” CNN spoke with Kluska. “He advised us to hurry to the corner when he turned out the lights since this may not be a practice and he wants to be safe.”
According to Bouchard, many were harmed as they raced out of the school. The majority of the victims were treated and discharged at a nearby staging area.
Zander Cumbey, a high school student, told CNN’s Victor Blackwell that he heard screaming approximately a minute after entering his classroom.
“I heard cries from the corridor, and then the first gunshot,” Zander recalled. “My instructor went into the classroom, shut the door, and instructed us to phone 911.” “And then we heard more cries as the remainder of the rounds went off.”
He said he didn’t actually talk to dispatchers when on the phone with them.
“I simply yelled ‘Oxford High School, shooter’ because I couldn’t speak,” Zander said.
He said he contacted his parents to tell them he loved them and checked in with his younger brother, who also attends the school, to see if he was okay. One of the fatalities, Tate Myre, was a close buddy on the football team with Zander, according to CNN.
According to Donna Sanders, her youngest grandson was changing classrooms when he heard gunshots. He and others escaped by running through an exit door and into a neighboring grocery shop, he informed her.
“While his brother was locked inside, he was able to flee to safety with others,” Sanders added.
Vontysha Pittman, Sanders’ daughter, claimed her older son took refuge in a classroom with a teacher and other children. She said he hid behind a desk and contacted his father to inform him what was going on.
“They’re both safe at home, but they’re both damaged. We need prayers, and not just for us, but for all of the Oxford families “Sanders stated his opinion.
Page’s class was put on lockdown for an hour, according to the senior. As he pondered if he would survive the trauma, he described the whole situation as “crazy.”
“‘Is this really happening?’ was the first thought that sprang to mind. I’m going to text my family and tell them I love them just in case I die.’ I was able to recover my breath and analyze things when everything cooled down for a second “he said
Adrienne Broaddus and Shimon Prokupecz of CNN contributed reporting from Oxford. In Atlanta, Jason Hanna and Amir Vera penned. This report was co-written by Carolyn Sung, Taylor Romine, Laura Ly, Caroll Alvarado, Kristina Sgueglia, and Patrick Cornell.