Sterling police arrest juvenile in Stevenson High threat case

UCS responds to Oxford High School massacre

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 2, 2021

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The Utica Community Schools district is assuring parents about its safety protocols after a gunman opened fire at Oxford High School Nov. 30, and additional threats were reported at UCS schools over the following days.

At press time, the mass shooting had taken the lives of four Oxford High students — Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, age 17 — and injured six other students and a teacher. 

The suspect, a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High, was taken into custody two to three minutes after authorities responded to the shooting, according to Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. 

At press time, the teen, Ethan Crumbley, was to be tried as an adult on charges of murder and terrorism. He was being held at Oakland County Children’s Village, a juvenile detention facility. Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the shooter’s parents have hired an attorney and have not allowed him to talk to police.

Following the news of the Oxford High shooting, UCS Superintendent Robert Monroe sent a letter to parents calling the shooting a “senseless tragedy.” He said the district is “truly a family,” and staff is ready to support students who are experiencing stress or who need to talk. 

“We encourage you to talk with your children regarding any concerns that they may be experiencing,” the letter said. “Please reach out to your child’s principal or teacher if you need additional support.”

Monroe said UCS is regarding students’ safety as a top priority, adding that it regularly works with police on safety procedures. Some of those protocols include school resource officers at high schools and a district security team made up of “experienced law enforcement professionals that serve and support all of our schools.”

Monroe added that schools have installed security infrastructure such as surveillance cameras that police can quickly monitor in case of an emergency. Buildings also have secure entryways, as well as “locked exterior doors and windows,” he said.

He said police are also involved with regularly updated security and emergency plans.

“As more information becomes available related to the incident at Oxford High School, we will work with our partners to take the necessary steps to strengthen protocols based on their guidance,” he wrote.

Monroe followed up his letter with a Dec. 1 YouTube video address. He let the public know that they are not alone in experiencing the shooting’s impact. 

“It is crucial for us to come together and take care of one another as we process this heartbreaking event,” he said. “As yesterday's incident is further processed by all of us, we must focus on both our own self-care as well as the mental health and well-being of our students.

“Talk with your children to ensure them that they are safe, and remind them of the support available to them both at home and at school.”

Monroe also praised UCS staff “for their incredible work in responding to this tragedy and for the care they bring to each classroom every day.”

On Dec. 1, Shaun Greene-Beebe, the principal at Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies and Heritage Junior High School, wrote a letter that said the school found some “threats against individuals at our school” on a bathroom wall in the building.

Greene-Beebe said the school and the Sterling Heights Police Department were investigating and also bringing “an additional law enforcement presence” to the building the following day.

“We will aggressively pursue actions against any student found to be involved in making threatening comments,” Greene-Beebe said. “Students need to be aware that these actions can result in school expulsion and — in recent cases — prosecution through the courts.”
On Dec. 2, UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy said in an email, “The only update I have so far is that the police have deemed the threat non-credible.”

Later that afternoon, the Sterling Heights Police Department announced that they had dealt with two different cases that concerned threats to “shoot up the school” — the Dec. 1 Heritage one, which they said was “still under investigation” but deemed not credible — and also a reported threat incident at Stevenson High School Dec. 2.

Police said they arrested a female for the Stevenson case, but added that the alleged threats involved were also deemed not credible. The female is not being publicly identified due to her juvenile status, police said.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said in a statement that police will investigate and take every threat-related incident seriously.

“We work very closely with the Macomb County Prosecutors Office, and warn that anyone who decides to make these threats in our schools will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Bastianelli said.

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said in a statement that his office has zero tolerance for school threats.

“I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to issuing terroristic threats against our schools, and if you do so you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Everyone should know that Michigan law, MCL 750.543M – False Report or Threat of Terrorism – comes with up to 20 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. That is where we start in our office, and if you issue the threat we will charge you, prosecute you, and put you in prison upon conviction. … The education of our children in an environment where they remain safe must be the top priority of law enforcement.  Any criminal activity that disrupts that, will not be tolerated in Macomb County and will be prosecuted,” he said in a statement.

In a statement, Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart and National Education Association President Becky Pringle said news of the shooting at Oxford High School was “horrifying” to both of them, as educators and as parents. 

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as well as all the Oxford students and educators who’ll carry today with them for the rest of their lives,” they said in the statement.

They said the MEA and NEA are committed to working with local members and the school district to ensure that students and employees get the emotional and physical support they need to begin recovering from this tragedy.

“Further, we remain committed to ending violence in our schools. One event like this is too many — and this is not the first time the unthinkable has happened. Addressing the mental health needs of our students and the physical safety of everyone in our schools is not a partisan issue and must be something we work together to achieve. Each of today’s victims — and every student, parent, educator and first responder — deserves that commitment from us all,” they said in the statement.

If a student sees or hears something that doesn’t seem right, they should submit a confidential tip to OK2SAY by calling (855) 565-2729; texting 652729; or emailing OK2SAY@mi.gov. For emergencies, dial 911. 

Learn more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.

 

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