Authorities look for motive with 15-year-old Michigan high school shooting suspect in custody. Here’s what we know

School bells were replaced by police sirens Tuesday after a shooting at Michigan’s Oxford High School left four students dead.

Six other students and a teacher were wounded by gunfire, and a 15-year-old suspect is in custody and has been charged, authorities said. The suspect is being held at a juvenile detention facility.

The attack was the deadliest US school shooting since eight students and two teachers were slain in May 2018 at Texas’ Santa Fe High School, according to a CNN tally. There have been 48 shootings this year on K-12 campuses, 32 of them since August 1.

Here’s what we know about Tuesday’s mass shooting:

How the incident unfolded

Deputies were dispatched to the school at 12:52 p.m., Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said, noting that more than 100 911 calls were placed.

As police were swarming the campus, students and staff began barricading doors and hiding in classrooms.

Law enforcement officers quickly entered the building and had the suspect in custody within three minutes of their arrival, the sheriff said.

Once the suspect encountered the officers, he put his hands up and they took a gun from him before placing him in custody.

The weapon deputies said was used in the shooting, a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semiautomatic pistol, was purchased by the suspect’s father on Friday, four days before the shootings at the school, Bouchard said.

Three 15-round magazines were found at the scene, and the gun had seven rounds of ammunition, Bouchard said. Investigators recovered more than 30 shell casings, said the sheriff, who’d earlier said at least a dozen rounds were fired.

“We believe he fired at least 30 shots,” he said.

Bouchard said two 15-round magazines were recovered by investigators and a third was recovered in the overnight hours. Investigators also learned the suspect had 18 rounds left, with seven in his pocket.

“With this much ammunition still with him … the quick actions of the school and the lockdown as well as the deputies going to the danger, saved lives,” Bouchard said.

An Oakland County Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned to the school helped take the suspect into custody, Undersheriff Michael McCabe said.

Investigators believe there were no other weapons involved, and there’s no indication the suspect was wearing body armor.

No shots were fired by responding law enforcement and the suspect was not injured, McCabe said.

What we know about the victims

Investigators identified the victims who died as Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17. Tate died in a patrol car as a deputy was attempting to rush him to the hospital due to the “severity of his wounds,” Bouchard said. Justin died Wednesday morning, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s office.

Seven others — six students and a teacher — were shot, Bouchard said.

Among the wounded were a 14-year-old girl who was on a ventilator following surgery, Bouchard said Tuesday night. On Wednesday, it was announced she had been taken off the ventilator and was in stable condition. A 14-year-old boy also had a gunshot wound to the jaw and head. The teacher, a 15-year-old and 17-year-old boy were discharged, Bouchard said Wednesday.

There were multiple other non-life-threatening injuries sustained by people as they rushed out of the school, Bouchard said. Most were treated and released at a staging area, he said.

What we know about the suspect

The suspect was identified as Ethan Crumbley, 15, a sophomore at the school. He is being held at Oakland County Children’s Village — a juvenile detention facility — and is on suicide watch where he is being checked on every 15 minutes, said David Coulter, the Oakland County executive.

“We don’t have a motive at this point in time,” McCabe said Tuesday. “We are still investigating that.”

Michigan law prevents police from talking to a juvenile without parental permission, and the suspect’s parents have refused that permission and requested a lawyer, Bouchard said.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald said the suspect has been charged with the following:

  • 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 during the commission of a felony.

“It is possible there could be additional charges” when the investigation is complete, McDonald said.

McDonald’s office will consider charges against the suspect’s parents, she said. The potential charges stem from the parents owning a gun. McDonald said that means securing it properly, ensuring ammunition is kept separate, among other legal responsibilities.

“We have to hold individuals accountable who don’t do that,” she said.

Bouchard said the 15-year-old had not been on law enforcement radar prior to the shooting.

Authorities did learn after the shooting that Crumbley and his parents met with school officials a few hours before the shooting. Officials met with just the suspect the day before and with the suspect and parents the day of the shooting, Bouchard said.

“The day before, it was a meeting with school personnel about some concerning behavior and the meeting the day of was with school personnel and parents about a different issue,” Bouchard said.

The sheriff declined to go into issues on either day.

“Prior to those two meetings there was no contact or nothing in his file by either concerning behavior or discipline,” he said.

What we know about the investigation

Investigators have a “tremendous amount of video footage” to review from cameras in the school, Bouchard said.

A search warrant was executed at Crumbley’s home Tuesday, McCabe said. Authorities seized a phone and are examining other seized items, Bouchard said.

Authorities also are investigating pictures of a target and the weapon posted on social media by the suspect, he added.

“We believe we have some writings that contain some of his thoughts,” Bouchard said Wednesday, adding he didn’t immediately know whether the writings reveal intent.

Video from the school shows the assailant was “shooting people at close range — oftentimes toward the head or chest,” Bouchard told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday.

“It’s chilling. It’s absolutely cold-hearted, murderous,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Hana St. Juliana.

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