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The teen suspect in a school shooting that left four high school students dead in Oxford, Mich., earlier this week had recorded cellphone video talking about killing students, officials said Wednesday.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism causing death, among other charges.
After the shooting, investigators found two videos on Crumbley’s phone, which they said were made the night before the crimes occurred. In the videos the suspect talks about shooting and killing students at the high school, Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Willis said.
Authorities also found a journal written by Crumbley, with entries that mentioned shooting and killing students, reports CNN.
He faces life in prison on both the terrorism and murder counts. Crumbley pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday.
Crumbley faces the terrorism charges as an adult because of changes made to Michigan’s state laws post-9/11.
The state’s 2002 anti-terrorism law defines a terroristic act as one intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to affect the conduct of a government through intimidation or coercion. Gun-control advocates who track gunfire incidents on school grounds were not immediately aware of similar terrorism charges having been filed in other states.
“It’s not a usual, a typical charge,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said of terrorism causing death, adding that the four students who were killed and seven others who were shot are not the only victims.
“What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now, who can’t eat and can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they could ever step foot back in that school? Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community. The charge of terrorism reflects that.”
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said he “100 per cent” backs the terrorism charge against Crumbley.
“If you weren’t hit by a bullet, it doesn’t mean you weren’t terrorized that day and won’t have nightmares about (it) the rest of your life — whether you’re a parent, a teacher or a student in that class,” he said.
Law officials at Wednesday’s hearing detailed the events that took place at Oxford High School leading up to the shooting.
Crumbley’s parents had been asked to attend a teacher meeting the morning of the shootings to discuss behavioural issues, reports NPR.
According to CNN, two teachers had reported separate instances of concerning behaviour from the sophomore, and two meetings were held with Crumbley just hours before the massacre.
Prosecutors told the court the 9-mm Sig Sauer handgun allegedly used by Crumbley had been bought by his father days before the shootings on Black Friday, and MacDonald said she is considering charges against Crumbley’s parents.
“We know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors,” McDonald said at a Wednesday news conference, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Prosecutor Mark Keast said security video from inside the school showed the shooter walking into a bathroom with a backpack and emerging shortly after with a gun.
Police say the shooter methodically walked the halls, firing more than 30 shots directly at students and through classroom doors. Three people died Tuesday and another passed away in hospital Wednesday. An additional seven people were injured.