January 28, 2022

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Michigan school shooting ‘entirely preventable,’ $100-million suit says – Reuters

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Dec 9 (Reuters) – A deadly shooting at a Michigan high school that authorities have said was carried out by a 15-year-old boy was “entirely preventable,” according to a lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages filed on Thursday against the school district and its officials on behalf of two sisters who survived the rampage.

Four students were killed in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Oakland County, some 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Detroit. The suit faulted the school district’s superintendent and school principal for assuring parents of the school’s safety despite knowing of disturbing social media posts and an online ammunition search by the accused shooter.

Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old student, is being held without bail after being charged as an adult in the deadliest U.S. school shooting of 2021.

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The 44-page lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of Riley Franz, 17, who was shot in the neck, and her sister Bella, 14, who was next to her at the time. Their parents, Jeffrey and Brandi Franz, also are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Riley Franz was among the six students and a teacher seriously injured in the gunfire.

Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. They gave him the gun as an early Christmas present and are accused of then ignoring warning signs that he was planning a shooting at the school.

The lawsuit was filed against Oxford Community School District, superintendent Timothy Throne, principal Steven Wolf, dean of students Ryan Moore, two unnamed teachers and two unnamed school counselors.

Jail booking photos taken of Ethan Robert Crumbley, 15, charged with first-degree murder in a high school shooting in Michigan, U.S. December 1, 2021, in a combination photograph with his parents Jennifer Lynn Crumbley and James Robert Crumbley who were taken into custody December 3, 2021. Oakland County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit describes Riley as a 12th grade honor roll student preparing to enter college and Bella as a ninth grade athlete.

“The horror of November 30, 2021 was entirely preventable,” said the lawsuit, filed by Michigan personal injury attorney Geoffrey Fieger. “Each and every defendant named herein created and increased the dangers then-existing at Oxford High School. The individually named Defendants are each responsible through their actions for making the student victims less safe.”

Among the accusations in the lawsuit were several detailing Ethan Crumbley’s threats of violence on social media as well as his using his cellphone to search for ammunition.

The lawsuit said that even though Throne and Wolf reviewed social media posts and were aware of the ammunition search reported by a teacher prior to the shooting, they improperly reassured all parents by email and other correspondence that their children were safe at Oxford, the lawsuit said. Similarly, students were assured there was no threat, it said.

“Plaintiff minors were safer before defendant Throne took action and advised each and every student, including plaintiff minors, that there was no credible threat,” the suit stated.

The lawsuit lists other actions by school employees including the failure to involve the campus safety officer in a meeting with Crumbley and his parents on the day of the shooting.

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Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York;
Editing by Will Dunham and Bernadette Baum

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