Tim Rugenstein, who now lives in Oxford and graduated from Dondero High School with the parents of Tate Myre, attends the candlelight vigil with his children — Beatrice, 5; Gabe, 14; and Magnus, 7 — at Royal Oak Middle School Dec. 4.

Tim Rugenstein, who now lives in Oxford and graduated from Dondero High School with the parents of Tate Myre, attends the candlelight vigil with his children — Beatrice, 5; Gabe, 14; and Magnus, 7 — at Royal Oak Middle School Dec. 4.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Local school districts close following Oxford High School shooting

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published December 8, 2021

 Dawn McFarland, of Royal Oak, and Dan Strange, of Royal Oak, both graduates of the former Dondero High School, write messages of support on candles at Royal Oak Middle School Dec. 4 during a vigil for the victims and families of the Oxford High School shooting.

Dawn McFarland, of Royal Oak, and Dan Strange, of Royal Oak, both graduates of the former Dondero High School, write messages of support on candles at Royal Oak Middle School Dec. 4 during a vigil for the victims and families of the Oxford High School shooting.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — Following the Nov. 30 school shooting that left four students dead and others injured, school administrators and local law enforcement agencies are working together to ensure students’ safety and investigate copycat threats.

Dozens of districts closed following the shootings at Oxford High School, including Clawson Public Schools. Royal Oak Schools initially did not close, but opted to close Dec. 3. While classes resumed at CPS Dec. 6, ROS remained closed Dec. 6 for staff to receive additional training and evaluate current protocols.

In a Dec. 2 letter, Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick acknowledged the closures of other school districts and high schools due to threats posted on social media, but in working with the Royal Oak Police Department, said the district did not plan to close.

“We have investigated social media posts thoroughly and we have no credible threats,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “We take all threats seriously and out of an abundance of caution, we will continue to have our public safety officers increase their patrols in and around our buildings the rest of the week.”

She wrote that threats against the district’s schools or students “will not be tolerated and we will use all resources to impose consequences for intolerable behavior” and that the district’s “administrators and staff are also fully available to our students during this uncertain time.”

In a second letter Dec. 2, Fitzpatrick said the district, in listening to staff and students, decided to cancel classes for all students and school staff Dec. 3, cancel after-school activities at schools Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, and keep after-school latchkey open for those already planning to be there.

“We also need students to stay off social media with unnecessary posts,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “Messages that come across as jokes, threats, or cryptic messages are harmful. Anyone connected to making a threat to a school, classmates, or staff will be disciplined to the fullest extent possible.”

Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, said police had not received any specific threats, but that there were “a lot of general threats going around and a lot of misinformation on social media.”

He confirmed that the Police Department was assisting the district by establishing a police presence at all schools.

“We’re showing support so they know we’re there. This is so traumatic for children and so close to home,” Carter said. “These children are scared and they should never be scared. Make sure to report anything you feel is threatening.”

On Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, Clawson Public Schools’ developmental kindergarten through 12th grade and child care programs closed due to an “abundance of caution,” Clawson Police Chief and interim City Manager Scott Sarvello said. The district also canceled all after-school activities, events and rentals from Dec. 2 through Dec. 5.

Sarvello said local law enforcement agencies and school officials throughout the county are working together to share information, utilize all available resources, and work diligently to address potential threats and keep students’ safety the top priority.

“It’s a sad situation that there’s these (threatening) posts floating around when the Oxford community is dealing with tragedy,” he said. “These not-credible threats are just victimizing them over and over. It’s very, very sad.”

He called it “terrible” that the already traumatized community in Oxford has to keep hearing of copycat threats, especially when they have so much to deal with. He said such threats are harmful and prevent the community from beginning the healing process.

“In the end, I’m angry that it’s happening, because it’s devastating to the Oxford community,” Sarvello said. “Everyone is coming together and doing what they can.”

Clawson Public Schools Superintendent Tim Wilson did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Oxford High School shooting

At approximately 12:51 p.m. Nov. 30, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office reported that it received the first of more than 100 calls to 911 about an active shooter at Oxford High School.

Deputies took a 15-year-old sophomore, later identified as Ethan Crumbley, into custody and recovered a semi-automatic handgun at the school. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the suspect did not resist arrest, asked for a lawyer and did not make statements as to a motive.

Four students died as a result of the shooting — Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17. Multiple other students and a teacher were shot, with several still hospitalized as of press time.

Crumbley was charged as an adult on one count of terrorism causing death; four counts of first-degree murder; seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

On Dec. 3, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced that her office charged both of Ethan Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. According to McDonald, James Crumbley bought the gun as a present for his son and the parents made several negligent responses to their son’s alarming behavior, including refusing to take him out of school a few hours before the shooting took place.

Police arrested James and Jennifer Crumbley in downtown Detroit at approximately 1:30 a.m. Dec. 4, after a manhunt, according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

Community resources

Resources for anyone struggling or in crisis can be found online at oakgov.com.

Common Ground offers mental health and crisis services. A 24/7 resource and crisis helpline can be reached at (800) 231-1127. For more information, visit commongroundhelps.org.

The Michigan Crisis and Access line can be reached at (844) 446-4225.

Students can report information anonymously through OK2SAY by calling (855) 565-2729, texting 652729 or emailing OK2SAY@mi.gov. For emergencies, dial 911.

Staff Writer Brian Wells contributed to this report.

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