Oxford schools superintendent ‘clarifies’ incidents before, after mass shooting

‘We feel it is important to clarify the details we can address at this time’

Oxford High School

OXFORD, Mich. – The Oxford Community Schools superintendent issued a statement this week in an effort to “clarify” incidents that happened before the Nov. 30, 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School.

Eleven people were struck by the gunfire inside the school that day, of which four were killed: 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.

Sophomore student Ethan Crumbley, 15, is facing 24 charges as an adult in connection with the mass shooting. He is accused of being the lone gunman and opening fire with a handgun. His parents also face involuntary manslaughter charges.

Meanwhile, Oxford High School students have begun to return to classes at Oxford Middle School and Oxford Bridges High School. The Oxford High School building is expected to be ready this week. Students are expected to physically return to the building the week of Jan. 24.

In his letter to the community on Tuesday, Superintendent Tim Throne addressed a deer head that was found at the school Nov. 4, the head of a bird found in a jar at the school on Nov. 11, claims that live ammunition was found at the school, tips sent to law enforcement, what the district knew -- or didn’t know -- about the suspected shooter’s social media posts, training that he said saved lives that day inside the high school, and law enforcement’s response.

Here is Throne’s full letter titled “January 18, Clarification from Supt.”:

Dear Wildcat Nation,

We were excited to see so many OHS students at the middle school the past two weeks. We have heard a lot of positive feedback and have also heard that students need a venue to share their opinions. To that end, Principal Steve Wolf and OHS staff are working to identify the best forum to ensure students have a voice and can share their needs in a safe space amongst trusting adults.

Unfortunately, there have been numerous irresponsible and false allegations as well as inaccurate claims regarding Oxford Community Schools. Additionally, we have received several inquiries related to the events leading up to the tragic incident on November 30. We feel it is important to clarify the details we can address at this time.

1. The deer head incident that occurred on November 4 was investigated by law enforcement and was in no way related to the perpetrator of the November 30 incident. Social media posts students shared after this event with OHS were also investigated and shared with law enforcement. They were also in no way related to the perpetrator of the November 30 incident.

2. On November 11, the head of a bird was found in a jar in a student restroom at OHS. It was brought to the attention of and investigated by law enforcement. In addition to school personnel reviewing video footage over two days and interviewing several students, law-enforcement investigated the bird head incident before November 30 and determined there was no threat to the high school. They were unable to determine when or how the jar was delivered. No threat or other content accompanied the strange act.

3. Allegations regarding live ammunition being discovered at school are completely false. We have no record or report of live ammunition ever being reported at any school and we have strict protocols and procedures in place when it comes to weapons on school grounds.

4. All OK2SAY tips from that time period (11/01/21-11/30/21) were forwarded to law enforcement. Each tip was fully investigated by law enforcement. The only actionable information received was on November 17 from an anonymous tip stating that a student, who is no longer a student of Oxford High School and not the perpetrator from November 30, was responsible for the bird head.

5. The district was unaware of the perpetrator’s social media presence or related posts until after the November 30 incident.

6. The high school administration and Pam Fine did not interact with the perpetrator on November 30 prior to the incident. The meeting with the perpetrator only included the counselor and dean of students.

7. Our ALICE emergency response to the horrific situation presented on November 30 saved lives. Our students and staff should be proud. Our high school administration, including Principal Steve Wolf, Kristy Gibson-Marshall, and Kurt Nuss ran toward the incident to effectively save children, administer aid to injured parties, and to locate the perpetrator, putting themselves in harm’s way. As an administrative team, we are extremely proud of their brave efforts that day.

8. At the time, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office then secured the scene at the high school. In doing so, they also took over all communications and provided aid to injured students limiting our administrators’ ability to share information.

9. We have always taken threats very seriously and will continue to listen to students and parents who report threats to the district. In reminding everyone to “say something if you see something” we are in no way suggesting that our community has ever hesitated to do so in the past.

The school district will respond in detail to the false allegations and reckless statements made by Mr. Fieger. The County Prosecutor has asked that the school district not unduly comment upon the details surrounding the case in order to avoid any interference with the criminal proceedings. Their efforts to seek justice for the victims of these criminal acts takes priority at this time. Your many questions will be answered in short order as the criminal prosecution moves forward and the school district responds to the inaccurate filing by Mr. Fieger.

These false allegations should not diminish the exemplary actions of our school staff on Nov. 30. Principal Wolf, school administrators, teachers, and support staff followed their training and implemented our District’s detailed emergency plans and protocols. More to the point, they put the safety of our students above their own safety when the criminal conduct forced our community to endure this unimaginable tragedy.

We look forward to our return to school next week and we look forward to letting the truth and the facts prevail through the course of the criminal investigation and any subsequent legal process.

As a community, we will get through this with love and grace for one another.

Tim Throne, Superintendent


Related: Civil lawsuit against Oxford school district, staff amended to include new counts

Full coverage: Oxford High School Shooting


About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.