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Parents and attorneys suing over Oxford shootings allege that officials ignored signs of violence

A makeshift memorial sits outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.
Scott Olson
Getty Images
A makeshift memorial sits outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.

Parents suing over the fatal shootings at Oxford High School last year say recent depositions reveal officials ignored signs the alleged gunman could become violent. It’s one of several lawsuits that claim school officials acted in a negligent manner.

Prosecutors accuse an Oxford High student of killing four classmates during a rampage last November.

Lawyer Ven Johnson says teachers were worried about drawings made and violent videos watched by the alleged gunman months before the shootings, as well as an incident in which he allegedly showed off a bullet in a school hallway. However, they never searched his backpack, which likely contained the gun, even though it felt unusually heavy.

"Were there warning signs? There were stop signs everywhere on Monday the 29th and Tuesday the 30th that were absolutely ignored," Johnson said.

One victim’s mother, Jill Soave, questions why top school officials failed to take any action.

“To me this is beyond neglect," Soave said. "This is unforgivable. We have four angels…that are… they’re gone.”

The lawsuit was filed against the alleged shooter, his parents, school officials, and an armed security guard who claims they thought the gunfire was only part of a drill. Criminal trials for the alleged shooter and his parents, who are charged with involuntary manslaughter, are expected to begin early next year.

Quinn Klinefelter is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, anchoring midday newscasts and preparing reports for WDET, NPR and the BBC. Klinefelter joined WDET in 1998 after earning a M.A. from the nation’s top-ranked journalism school, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and working as a sports correspondent for BBC Radio 4 and as a talk show host, anchor and reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.