Prosecutors refuse to rule out charges against high school where four pupils died in mass shooting

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Prosecutors have refused to rule out pursuing criminal charges against Oxford High School in Michigan where four pupils were killed in a mass shooting last week. 

The parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley have already been held on manslaughter charges, and analysts told The Telegraph that US authorities may seek to turn this into a “landmark” case that will widen the scope of responsibility for such incidents.

Oakland County prosecutor, Karen McDonald, pointedly would not confirm or deny whether charges were being considered against the school administration after she said two “red flags” were missed which could have prevented Crumbley’s shooting spree last week.

The teenager has been charged with one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm while committing a felony.

His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are in custody after being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

They are alleged to have bought their son the gun as a Christmas present and then ignored warning signs that he was ready to use the weapon.

The couple who pleaded not guilty to the charges face up to 15-years in prison if convicted.

Ms McDonald highlighted several warning signs, including searches for ammunition on the teenager’s mobile phone and a drawing showing a bullet with the words “blood everywhere.”

She said he should not have been allowed back into the classroom.

Asked if school officials could be charged, she replied: “The investigation’s ongoing.”

The willingness of the authorities to prosecute parents and even education administrators comes against a backdrop of a spike in gun incidents this year.

According to the latest figures, there have been 222 incidents involving a gun in schools this year, a new all-time high, topping the previous records set in 2018 and 2019 by more than 100.

“This shooting has to be looked at in its historical context,” James Densley, professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University in St Paul, Minnesota, told The Telegraph.

 “At Columbine the school saw the warning signs but never put the pieces together. What was consistent is people didn’t know what to do.

“Unfortunately, things fall through the cracks.  

“The prosecution feel they can make this particular shooting a landmark. This could be the case where we make sure it doesn’t happen again.  

“I am sympathetic to counsellors and administrators. It looks as if they tried to intervene. They brought the parents in and told them what they thought about the writings and the parents failed to act.”

James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning.

According to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, the couple were fleeing from law enforcement – an allegation strongly denied by their lawyers.

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