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How the fatal Oxford, Mich., high school shooting unfolded and what we know about the victims and the suspect

Mourners gathered at a makeshift memorial at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., on Wednesday.Nick Hagen/NYT

A 15-year-old student opened fire at his Michigan high school on Tuesday, killing four students and wounding seven other people, authorities said.

The suspect was identified by prosecutors Wednesday and is being charged as an adult with terrorism, murder, and assault. He was arrested with a loaded gun at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.

While a number of questions remain unanswered about the shooting, including the motive, authorities have released some details as the investigation continues.

Here’s what we know so far.

What happened?

Authorities received more than 100 phone calls about the shooting in “a very short period of time,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said during a news conference on Tuesday night.

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Police were dispatched at 12:52 p.m. and arrived minutes later. Within two to three minutes, Bouchard said, the suspect was in custody. Hundreds of officials from the sheriff’s office and fire departments arrived to the scene.

Dozens of police, fire, and EMS personnel worked on the scene of the shooting at Oxford High School on Tuesday.Todd McInturf/Associated Press

According to surveillance video that authorities reviewed, the suspect came out of a bathroom with the weapon, but it’s unclear where he went first. Bouchard said on Wednesday that the suspect never entered a classroom and remained in the school’s hallways.

Students at the school were barricaded in classrooms, with teachers locking the doors, pressing chairs and tables against them, and covering their windows, protocols that students had rehearsed in active shooter drills. Some students armed themselves with scissors.

“I sit right next to the door, and I heard boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Brendan Becker, a 17-year-old student told The New York Times.

A video being circulated widely on social media appeared to show the inside of a classroom during the shooting, with students huddled together as the door was barricaded. It appeared to show a teacher speaking to someone outside of the room who claimed to be from the sheriff’s office and said it was safe to come outside.

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“We’re not willing to take that risk right now,” the teacher responds. The person outside then addresses the teacher as “bro,” which prompted alarm in the students that the person outside was not a law enforcement official as they had claimed.

“He said bro,” one of the students huddled in the classroom said, according to the video. “Red flag.”

The video then shows students escaping from the classroom through a window, running to another building. One person can be heard crying.

But Bouchard said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference that the video does not depict the suspect outside of the classroom, and that it was likely a plainclothes official trying to speak colloquially with the students.

“A video was disseminated rather widely that showed the students in a classroom and depicted someone knocking on the door,” Bouchard said. “And pretty much the allegation was that that was the suspect. We’ve now been able to determine that was not the suspect. More than likely it was one of our plainclothes detectives, and he may have been talking ‘bro’ in a conversational manner to try to bring them down from the crisis.”

Officials confirmed by analyzing video that the suspect never knocked on a door, Bouchard said.

Police encountered the suspect in a school hallway, and he put his hands up. Authorities took a loaded gun from him and brought him into custody. The boy didn’t say anything as he was being apprehended, Bouchard said.

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The gun that deputies recovered was a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer pistol that was loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, which Bouchard said meant that deputies “interrupted what potentially could have been seven more victims.”

Bouchard clarified on Wednesday that the suspect actually had 18 rounds left — seven were in his pocket. Thirty shell casings were recovered at the school.

Officials did a sweep of the school and evacuated the injured students and those who were uninjured but “clearly panicked,” Bouchard said.

A K9 and explosives unit discovered what authorities believe to be the suspect’s backpack that he “more than likely,” carried the gun in and didn’t find anything else that was dangerous, Bouchard said.

Students were brought to a local supermarket that closed to customers in order to serve as a reunification site.

Parents walked with their kids at the Meijer's parking lot, where many students gathered following the shooting. Eric Seals/Associated Press

The high school has about 1,800 students in a community of about 22,000 people that is located about 30 miles north of Detroit.

Who are the victims?

Four students were killed in the shooting, and seven people were injured. Six of the injured were students and one was a teacher.

On Tuesday night, authorities identified the three people who were killed as 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, and 16-year-old Tate Myre. Myre died in a patrol car as he was being taken to a hospital.

On Wednesday, officials said a fourth student, Justin Shilling, had died.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald provided brief descriptions of each victim. McDonald said she had spoken with two of the families of those killed and planned to speak with the remaining two.

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St. Juliana was a volleyball and basketball player, McDonald said.

“Her father asked me to tell you that she was one of the happiest and most joyful kids,” McDonald said.

Baldwin was a talented artist and big sister. Myre was a football player and honor student.

“Mr. Myre asked me when I spoke to him if I had children,” McDonald said, “and I said that I did, and that I would treat this case like these are my own children.”

Shilling was a co-captain of the Oxford bowling team and a golfer.

Photos of the victims were placed on the window of a business in Oxford, Mich., on Wednesday.Nick Hagen/NYT

Bouchard on Wednesday provided on update on the seven people who were injured. Four students remained hospitalized, and three people were treated and released.

A 14 year-old boy with gunshot wounds to the jaw and hand is still in serious condition; a 17-year-old girl with neck wounds is still hospitalized; a 14-year-old girl with chest and neck gunshot wounds who was on a ventilator after surgery has improved, and her condition has been changed from critical to stable; and a 17-year-old girl with a gunshot wound to the chest is still in critical condition.

Those discharged were a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the left leg, a 17-year-old boy shot in the hip, and a 47-year-old female teacher who was shot in the left shoulder.

What do we know about the alleged shooter?

The suspect was identified by authorities as Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore who lives in Oxford. He was not injured in the shooting.

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McDonald identified Crumbley on Wednesday after officials had previously declined to name him because he is a child and charges had not yet been filed against him.

His parents visited him while he was being held on Tuesday and spoke with him, Bouchard said. He is not cooperating with police, and his parents have hired an attorney.

Authorities executed a search warrant at his home and seized his phone, which is being searched.

Crumbley’s father bought the weapon on Nov. 26, four days before the shooting, Bouchard said.

“It’s my understanding, again, that this was a recent weapon purchase,” Bouchard said. “[Ethan Crumbley] had been shooting with it and had posted pictures of a target and a weapon. That’s all part of what’s being looked at. We’re going to do a deep dive on the social media and all the activities of this young man.”

Oakland County Sheriff Micheal Bouchard spoke during a news conference regarding the Oxford High School shooting on Tuesday.Nick Hagen/NYT

He added that the gun that was pictured in the social media posts appeared to be the same one that was used in the shooting.

During the briefing, Bouchard also discussed the importance of speaking up about potential threats and cautioned against making conclusions on rumors spreading on social media before they had been addressed by authorities.

McDonald also referenced Crumbley’s social media posts that will be analyzed as part of the investigation.

“There is a mountain of digital evidence. Videotape, social media, all digital evidence possible,” McDonald said. “We are confident that we can show it was premeditation.”

Bouchard said Wednesday that school officials met with Crumbley the day before and the day of the shooting for “behavior in the classroom that they felt was concerning.”

Crumbley’s parents were brought in the morning of the shooting and met with school officials, and the content of the meeting is part of the investigation, Bouchard said.

What charges is he facing?

Crumbley is being charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, and seven counts assault with intent to murder.

McDonald said Crumbley was being charged as an adult in part because of facts that suggest “this was not just an impulsive act.”

The charge of first-degree murder requires premeditation, McDonald said.

“I am absolutely sure after reviewing the evidence that it isn’t even a close call. It was absolutely premeditated,” McDonald said.

Charges are being considered against both of Crumbley’s parents, and a decision will be made on that soon, McDonald said.

“However, 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. “We know that, and we have to hold individuals accountable who don’t do that.”

McDonald did not disclose a motive for the shooting.

During his arraignment on Wednesday, Crumbley’s attorney entered a plea of not guilty. A judge ordered him held without bail and agreed to a transfer from a juvenile facility to a jail at the request of a prosecutor.

Oakland County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Tim Willis told a judge during a court hearing Wednesday that Crumbley recorded a video the night before the shooting in which he talked about killing students.


Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.