Families left frustrated after release of Oxford High School shooting report

‘It’s mind-blowing’

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The long-awaited and fought-for third-party investigation into the Oxford High School shooting was released late Monday, Oct. 30.

The 572-page report found that the school and some of its officials did not do enough to prevent the shooting from happening.

The Guidepost Solutions report listed how the school district missed signals, opportunities, and basic common sense in what it could have done to prevent the November 2021 shooting that killed four students, and injured six others and a teacher.

Read: 572-page report says Oxford shooting could’ve been prevented had proper training, guidelines been in place

“Our investigation has revealed that had proper threat assessment guidelines been in place and District threat assessment policy followed, this tragedy was avoidable.”

The report laid out five specific ways then superintendent Tim Throne and his leadership failed the process by not having reasonable, followable or even adequately shared processes in place to begin with, including:

  • Failing to properly communicate the District’s threat assessment policy or to even make sure one was being followed as a standard operating procedure.
  • Failing to share or adequately train staffers on a threat assessment plan.

“Our protocol is that if we get information from any school personnel, any teacher, any student, any mom or dad that someone’s potentially going to self harm iterations or violent against someone else we need to be in that meeting and looped in so we can make an immediate assessment of what we have to do,” said Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. “We weren’t in any of those meetings.”

The report alleges that if the district had a low bar threshold been fully and properly established, and trained inside the high school, the shooter would not been allowed to return to class when an alarm was raised on his writings, drawings and demeanor that day. No matter how loudly his parents protested and demanded he be returned to class, he would not have been allowed back.

Meghan Gregory’s son survived but witnessed the shooting. He’s still suffering from PTSD. Gregory has been pouring through the document and said there are revelations.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Gregory said. “I always thought after it happened, everyone did everything right during it, and reading the report, seeing the missed opportunities to save Justin and Keegan hurts. To me, that was miss after miss after miss.”

The report also shows the lawyering up of so many staffers and witnesses that it was difficult to get first-person interviews that could erase what might be considered hubris at its worst for self-evaluation and reflection that could benefit every school district.

The report said that of the 161 people who had direct contact with the shooter, knew about his declining behavior, were eyewitnesses to the events that led up to the shooting or witnessed the shooting itself, only 35% spoke with independent investigators.

“It’s not helping your neighbors, it’s not helping your family or anything. It just kind of skips over the problem,” said Craig Shilling, whose son Justin died in the shooting. “If we’re going to keep skipping over the problem, then we’re never going to solve it. That’s kind of what we want to do. We want to address it. We have to address it. You cannot look the other way.”

“The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office already made it clear none of these people are going to be charged with a criminal crime so don’t tell me that they have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, because the prosecutor has already publicly said there will be no charges,” said attorney Ven Johnson.

A response from the school district can be read below:

“Last night, Guidepost Solutions released their final report to the school system at the same time as to the public. We are beginning the process of carefully studying this report and will share our response once it has been thoroughly reviewed.

As we review the document, the following criteria will guide our response:

This tragedy impacted all of our lives, creating devastation and heartache. While we are forever changed by what occurred, our community has also embodied extraordinary compassion and continuing acts of care. These things will ultimately define what it means to be part of Oxford.”

Danielle Stublensky, Oxford Community Schools

About the Author:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's married and the stepmother of three beautiful and brilliant daughters. Her personal philosophy in life, love and community is, "Do as much as you can possibly do, not as little as you can possibly get away with".