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Accused Oxford High School shooter pleads guilty

 Ethan Crumbley attends a hearing at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Mich., on Feb. 22, 2022.
David Guralnick
Ethan Crumbley attends a hearing at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Mich., on Feb. 22, 2022.

The teen accused of going on a murderous rampage at Oxford High School last November has pleaded guilty to all charges against him. Ethan Crumbley shot 11 people with a handgun, killing four of them.

That’s despite his defense initially filing a notice of insanity. Evidence in the involuntary manslaughter case against Crumbley’s parents show the then 15-year-old attempted to ask for help with his mental health in the months leading up to the shooting.

“We felt it appropriate to withdraw (the insanity notice) and have him plead guilty.” — Paulette Michel Loftin, attorney

Paulette Michel Loftin is Ethan Crumbley’s attorney. She says her team explored the insanity argument.

“Based on the conversations that we’ve had and the review of the discovery,” says Loftin, “we felt it appropriate to withdraw that and have him plead guilty.”

Loftin says the next step for Crumbley is what’s known as a “Miller hearing,” where both sides present evidence prior to sentencing.

 Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in December 2021.
Oakland County
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in December 2021.

Prosecutor responds

At a news conference after Crumbley’s plea hearing, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald says the 16-year-old was not offered a deal.

“I want to be very clear,” says McDonald, “there were no plea negotiations, no plea offers, no reductions and no sentencing agreements.”

McDonald says she cannot comment on the case against his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, but did highlight the revelation that Ethan Crumbley gave his father the money to buy the gun used in the crime.

She strongly suggests some of the teen’s statements in court would be used in his parent’s trial, which is now expected to start next year.

“He did say in his own words that his father bought the gun with his money that he gave to his father and that it was not locked,” says McDonald.

Families respond

It was an emotional day in court for families of the victims. For Meghan Gregory, it was her first time seeing the teenage gunman in person since he held her son hostage in a school bathroom for six minutes.

“I tried to look at him as a kid that needs help,” says Gregory, “but the closer that I’ve gotten to this — I just struggle right now to forgive anyone that murdered someone else.”

“I hope that someday he does feel that remorse. I still saw evil.” — Meghan Gregory, parent

Among the 24 charges Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to is one count of terrorism — admitting that he wanted to create mass fear in the community. While Gregory’s son survived, she says he’s one of more than a thousand Oxford students who have spent the last year dealing with the mental health impact of the shooting.

Gregory says while she wants the teenage gunman to serve life without parole, she does hope he gets the help he needs while behind bars.

“For instance, medication or mental health when he didn’t have that at home,” says Gregory. “So I hope that someday he does feel that remorse. I still saw evil.”

This story is developing. Last updated: Oct. 24 at 3:36 p.m.

Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET.
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.
Russ McNamara is a reporter and host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. McNamara has been working in radio since he was 17 - and in news since 2012. He also worked as play-by-play announcer for Wayne State University basketball for seven years. Born in the Upper Peninsula, McNamara is a lifelong Michigander. He is a 2002 graduate of Central Michigan University’s Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Program.