Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Ethan Crumbley pleads guilty to Oxford High School shooting. What to know.

oxford victims
Oxford High School students Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Tate Myre, 16, and Justin Shilling, 17, died Nov. 30 when a classmate went on a shooting spree inside the Oakland County school.
  • Ethan Crumbley, 16, pleads guilty in the Nov. 30 Oxford High School shooting
  • Gun measures have gone nowhere since the shooting, but millions more have been allocated for security

Ethan Crumbley, 16, pleaded guilty Monday morning to killing four classmates at Oxford High School and wounding seven other people last year, withdrawing an insanity plea and taking responsibility for Michigan’s worst school shooting.

He pleaded guilty to all 24 charges against him in Oakland Circuit Court in Pontiac, including first-degree murder and terrorism causing death.

“He’s taking accountability for his actions,” Crumbley’s attorney, Paulette Michel Loftin. “I think he made the right decision.”


Crumbley admitted killing Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17, and injuring seven others, including six students and a teacher.

Ven Johnson, an attorney representing the families of victims, called Monday “a tough day, an emotional day, but a big day.”

The teenager was charged as an adult and now faces the possibility of up to life in prison without parole. 

Here’s what to know about the tragedy and what happens now.

How did the shooting occur?

On Nov. 30, prosecutors say Crumbley walked out of a school bathroom and shot at least 30 rounds from a 9MM Sig Sauer pistol, which investigators say his parents bought for him as an early Christmas present. 

Less than three hours before the shooting, Crumbley and his parents had been called to an emergency meeting with the school counselors.

The meeting followed several episodes involving Crumbley. Days before the shooting, school staffers had found him browsing for ammunition at school, drawing pictures of a shooting with the notes “blood everywhere” and “thoughts won’t stop, help me.”

When his parents wouldn’t take him home, Crumbley was allowed to return to class. Not long thereafter, the shooting occurred.

Sheriff’s officials later said that, the day before the shooting, Crumbley recorded a video of his plan to kill classmates, investigators said.

During the Monday court appearance, Crumbley acknowledged he intended to use the 9mm handgun, which he had hidden in his backpack, to cause panic and fear among students and teachers. 

He also told the judge he had given money to his father, James Crumbley, and asked him to buy the gun he used in the shooting. 

The gun was not locked away, contradicting his parents who claimed the gun was stored securely, the Detroit Free Press reported

Legislative reform?

Following the rampage, Democrats and Republicans alike debated whether laws could have prevented the killings.

Democrats called for more gun control, while Republicans instead focused on mental health and questioned whether legislation could have made any difference.

“If we get obsessed with eliminating all risks, we will then develop and evolve into a country we won’t recognize because we’ll also have no freedoms,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said at the time.

Legislators had proposed 50 gun reform bills last year, including some with bipartisan support. But none went anywhere.

Democrats have called for universal background checks on all firearm purchases and safe storage laws to keep kids from accessing guns. 

Some Republicans have called for more armed security at schools and urged they be “hardened” to stop threats.

The Michigan House School Safety Task Force, a bipartisan group of lawmakers formed after the Oxford shooting, recommended money for school-based health centers to identify mental health, threat assessments at all schools and improvements to identify and react to threats. 

The measures have not moved in legislative committees.

State lawmakers passed some bills unrelated to guns in response to Oxford, such as allowing schools to install temporary locks on doors without state approval.

The state has sent $9.8 million to Oxford High School for its recovery and another $27.5 million to help with school safety assessments and better mapping of school buildings for law enforcement.

The annual budget for the next fiscal year — approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — includes $168 million for school security. The per-pupil funding would go toward public and private schools for safety infrastructure, training and more, Chalkbeat reported.

On Monday, after the plea, Whitmer issued a statement calling for more gun reform. 

“As Michiganders, we must do more to protect each other from gun violence. Let’s work together on background checks, secure storage, and red flag laws—commonsense gun violence prevention measures to keep our communities safe," Whitmer said. 

What happens next?

Crumbley is “completely segregated” in an Oakland County facility and has no family contact, said his lawyer, Loftin. He uses a tablet to message his attorneys and does not have “free rein” of the internet, she said.

Crumbley faces up to life in prison without parole. But the teen will have a mandatory hearing for a judge to decide his final sentence, because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that automatic life sentences without parole to juveniles are unconstitutional.

Loftin said the court will consider “a number of factors” when deciding his sentence but did not elaborate.

Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are charged with involuntary manslaughter for buying their son the gun he used to kill — an uncommon move since parents of school shooters are rarely charged

The parents pleaded not guilty to all charges and sought to dismiss their case earlier this year. 

They are held at the Oakland County Jail on a $500,000 bond each, with a trial date expected in January, The Detroit News reported.

Oxford Community Schools also faces multi-million dollar civil suits from survivors contending school officials could have prevented the tragedy.

How impactful was this article for you?

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now