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15-Year-Old Michigan School Shooter ‘Methodically and Deliberately Walked Down the Hallway Aiming the Firearm at Students’: Prosecutors

Ethan Robert Crumbley appears in a mugshot released by the Oakland County Jail in Michigan.

Ethan Robert Crumbley appears in a mugshot released by the Oakland County Jail in Michigan.

During a Wednesday court appearance, authorities in Michigan described disturbing surveillance camera videos which purportedly show alleged school shooter Ethan Robert Crumbley, 15, exiting a bathroom and targeting fellow students at an Oakland County school.

Crumbley is accused of murdering Hana St. Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, in the Tuesday attack at Oxford High School. Shilling died the next morning.

Crumbley faces one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with the intent to murder, and twelve weapons offenses for carrying a firearm during the commission of a felony in Oakland County, according to jail records there and a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

During an approximately 25-minute-long court hearing on Wednesday, Crumbley said he understood that he had a right to remain silent. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard previously said Crumbley was not speaking to the authorities.

After a judge read Crumbley the lengthy list of counts against him, Crumbley said he understood the charges.

Scott Kozak, Crumbley’s attorney, jumped in when the judge attempted to discuss bond.

“I just want to make sure it’s clear that my client is standing mute; we’re asking the court to enter a not guilty plea,” Kozak said.

The judge apologized for jumping ahead through the typical flow of the proceeding and entered the requisite plea on the defendant’s behalf.

Despite having limited information about the defendant, a pretrial services employee suggested that the defendant be held without bond. Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast echoed those thoughts by citing a court rule which allows a judge to hold a juvenile defendant without bail if the juvenile is charged with first-degree murder and “the presumption is great that the juvenile committed the offense.”

Keast then said that authorities have reviewed surveillance camera footage of the attack from within the school. As part of the bond discussion, the prosecutor explained at length what the video allegedly shows:

We’ve have had the opportunity to review that surveillance video just this morning, and what’s depicted on that video — it, honestly, judge, I don’t have the words to describe how horrific that was that happened on November the 30th. It depicted, just before 12:51 p.m., this defendant entering a bathroom with a backpack. A minute or two later, he exited the same bathroom without the backpack but with a gun in hand. At that point, he methodically and deliberately walked down the hallway aiming the firearm at students and firing. Right outside the bathroom, he began firing, judge. After children started running away from the defendant, he continued down the hallway, again at a deliberate and methodical pace, pointing and aiming inside classrooms and at students who hadn’t had the opportunity to escape. This continued on for four or approximately five minutes. The defendant went to another bathroom. As deputies arrived, he set the firearm down, and he surrendered. Judge, a preliminary review of the defendant’s social media accounts, his cell phone, as well as other document evidence recovered on scene showed that this defendant planned this shooting. He deliberately brought the handgun that day with the intent to murder as many students as he could. Judge, I believe no bond is appropriate.

Kozak, the defense attorney, acknowledged the “extreme nature of the case.” He said that he would leave the setting of bond “to the discretion of the court,” but he also said that decision was made after consultation with the defendant and with the defendant’s parents.

The judge confirmed that both Kozak and a previous juvenile attorney who represented Crumbley did not wish to have the defendant questioned further by the court as to the issue of bond. The judge then ordered the defendant to be held without bond.

Keast next asked the court to send Crumbley to an adult facility by citing a court rule which applies when a juvenile defendant exhibits “habits or conduct” that are “considered a menace to other juveniles.” The full rule reads:

On motion of a prosecuting attorney or a superintendent of a juvenile facility in which the juvenile is detained, the magistrate or court may order the juvenile confined in a jail or similar facility designed and used to incarcerate adult prisoners upon a showing that

(a) the juvenile’s habits or conduct are considered a menace to other juveniles; or

(b) the juvenile may not otherwise be safely detained in a juvenile facility.

“Judge, in this case, I can’t think of a more appropriate set of circumstances for a transfer from Oakland County Children’s Village to the Oakland County Jail,” Keast said. “This defendant’s conduct is a menace to juveniles by evidence of the simple fact that he targeted juveniles in this offense. Count one is a count of terrorism via murder, judge . . . this was a planned event. It was methodical in its operation, and it was done so to terrorize and intimidate others in the community.”

Keast also said he confirmed with the county jail that it could house the defendant in a room “separate from adults” — citing the language in a Michigan statute.

Kozak objected to the transfer. He argued that the juvenile facility was “more than capable of monitoring” the defendant and “maintaining the safety of the other residents of that facility.”

“He targeted other juveniles,” the prosecutor reiterated. “The Oakland County Jail is the appropriate location for this individual, judge.”

He also repeated that the county jail was “equipped” to handle high-profile defendants in serious cases.

“Ethan has been cooperative,” said Crumbley’s attorney. “He is on suicide prevention; they are at Children’s Village. He’s not in general population. He is secluded, and he is receiving one-on-one supervision . . . he is cloaked in the veil of innocence until proven guilty.”

The judge then invited a discussion about precisely how Crumbley would be housed in the county jail. She eventually determined that the transfer was appropriate after authorities told her that Crumbley would have no contact with adult inmates there.

The teen was booked at 5:19 p.m. Wednesday into the county jail, records there indicate.

Officials noted Wednesday that additional charges may be forthcoming as the investigation into Crumbley unfolds. The probe includes an examination of Crumbley’s cache of digital data — phones, documents, videos, social media posts — that investigators hoped might shine some light on the motive for the killings, said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald. While McDonald said Wednesday that her office was “confidant” it could prove the attack was premeditated, they were not quite sure about the precise motive. Motive can helpful to a jury but is generally not required as an element of a homicide charge.

Authorities also hinted that they were considering charges against Crumbley’s parents.

A probable cause conference is set for Dec. 13 at 1:15 p.m. The preliminary examination was set for Dec. 20, also at 1:15 p.m.

Watch the hearing below:

Read the defendant’s charging document below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.