Ethan Crumbley: Oxford High School shooting

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Ethan Crumbley: Oxford High School shooting
by Staff Writer -December 5, 2021. Last Updated: December 9, 2022

  • This article maybe updated as more information becomes available.

On November 30, 2021 at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley is reported to have opened fire with a Sig Sauer 9mm semiautomatic handgun killing four students and injuring seven others, including one teacher. The school's surveillance footage reportedly showed Ethan entering a bathroom with his backpack and then coming out approximately a minute later with a handgun. At 12:50 p.m, he is then said to have started firing at students in the hallway as well as shot his gun into classrooms at students. Ethan was arrested by a deputy assigned as a "school resource officer" and a second officer who had responded to the scene. He allegedly still had seven rounds of ammunition loaded into his gun and two extra 15-round magazines when he was taken into custody. He was unharmed and appears to have given up without a fight.

Ethan was arraigned by a magistrate on homicide and attempted homicide charges shortly after he was arrested, to allow for continued custody. On December 1, he was charged with:

  • One count of terrorism causing death
  • Four counts of first-degree murder
  • Seven counts of assault with intent to murder
  • 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony

He was charged as an adult and ordered to be held without bond at the Oakland County Jail.

Ethan had previously lived in Jacksonville, Florida prior to moving to Michigan with his parents James and Jennifer Crumbley and his half-brother Eli Crumbley. Eli (age 18) told the Daily Mail that he had issues with his stepmom that prompted him to abruptly move back to Florida to live with his biological mother last March. There is some indication of childhood neglect. Former neighbors of the Crumbley's have told the press that the parents would often go out drinking leaving Ethan alone, as young as age 6. Both parents have had some minor run ins with the law, including drunk driving and issuing bad cheeks while living in Florida. However to all outward appearance, the Crumbley's seemed like a typical suburban family. Eli described his brother to the press in this way: "The Ethan I knew was just a smart boy who just seemed like an average kid. There was nothing that ever stood out to me. He'd never get suspended from school, or detention".

The gun used in the shooting was reportedly purchased by Ethan’s father on Black Friday, Nov. 26 and was intended to be Ethan’s Christmas gift. That same day Ethan posted to his now-deleted social media account, “Just got my new beauty today. Sig Sauer 9mm. Any questions I will answer.” He includes an emoji of a smiling face with heart eyes. Ethan's mother Jennifer Crumbley reportedly posted on social media the next day and after Ethan and her had gone to a shooting range to practice with the weapon, “Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present.” The gun was reportedly stored in an unlocked drawer in the parents bedroom.

Events appear to have gone downhill rapidly from that point. On Monday, Nov. 29, one of Ethan's teacher sees Ethan searching online for ammunition with his cellphone during class and reports it to school officials. A school representative attempts to contact his mother, leaving a voicemail and emailing her as well. She does not respond. His mother allegedly sends a text message to Ethan saying, “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” Later that night, Ethan recorded a video in which he discusses killing students, as reported to the court by sheriff’s Lt. Tim Willis. On Tuesday, Nov. 30, a teacher finds a note on Ethan’s desk and took a photo. Prosecutor Karen McDonald reported that it included a drawing of a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” Also depicted is a bullet with the words “blood everywhere” above a person who appears to have been shot twice and is bleeding. A laughing emoji is drawn below the figure. The note also says “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.” At around around 10 a.m that same day, Ethan's parents meet with the school counselor. His parents are shown the note and told that they are required to get him counseling within 48 hours. The counselor has stated that Ethan's parents did not want him to be removed from school and that he was returned to his classroom. At about 12:50 p.m., the shooting begins.

No motive has yet been offered for this crime. Ethan's half-brother Eli stated that Ethan wasn't ever bullied as a child and the school claims to have no record of Ethan being bullied. However at least four of his peers at the High School paint a different picture and say, he was being bullied and picked on, see video: There may have been other indicators that something was going on with this boy and at this school that those in authority were were not responding to or perhaps were unaware. In the month proceeding the shooting, there were at least two notices posted by the school attempting to addressing troubling events and rumors and to reassure parents that there was no threat to school safety. On Nov. 4th, Oxford High School principal Steve Wolf posted a message on the school’s website about a severed deer’s head in a school courtyard and messages painted in red acrylic paint on the pool deck and some of the school’s windows. He stressed that there was "no threat". One week later, a second note appeared on the school’s website. The administrators continued to report that there was "no threat" to the students.

Many of the Students seemed to know that something bad was coming. A number of Oxford High School students choose to stay home form school the day of the shooting, claiming they didn't feel safe going to school. One student told the press that students were aware of ominous social media posts including a “countdown” and other “really scary stuff” shared online by a classmate. On the day of the shooting, several students reported receiving a threatening Snapchat message from an unknown sender.

In the aftermath of this terrible event on December 3rd, the parents of Ethan Crumbley were charged with involuntary manslaughter for failing to secure the handgun used in the shooting, even though Michigan law does not require firearm owners to lock their guns up. After failing to appear for arraignment, they were the subject of a manhunt by US Marshals but were later caught in northwest Detroit. Their bond was set at $500,000 apiece.


  • January 27, 2022, Crumbley's defense attorneys filed a notice saying that they plan to "assert the defense of insanity at the time of the alleged offense" and ask for a forensic's evaluation. [1]
  • As if April 21, 2022, a tentative trial date for Ethan Crumbley has been set for Sept. 6, 2022. [2]
  • June 23, 2022, Ethan Crumbley trial pushed back to January 2023. [3]
  • October 24, 2022, Ethan Crumbley withdrew his intent to pursue an insanity defense and pleaded guilty to all charges. [4]
  • On December 8, 2023, Ethan Crumbley was sentenced to life in prison without parole. [5]