IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Michigan school shooter, 16, pleads guilty to killing four classmates

Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to 24 counts, including murder and terrorism, in the shooting at Oxford High School in November.
Get more newsLiveon

Ethan Crumbley, the 16-year-old accused of gunning down four schoolmates last year in a Michigan suburb, pleaded guilty Monday to all charges against him. 

He was charged as an adult with the killings as well as wounding six other students and a teacher at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021.

The news comes after prosecutors in Oakland County said last week he was expected to plead guilty to 24 charges against him, including terrorism, and the victims were notified.

Crumbley appeared in court with long hair in an orange uniform and face mask. He kept his head down for much of the hearing.

In the hearing Crumbley said the gun used in the shooting was purchased by his father. He said he asked his father to purchase the firearm and gave him his own money to make the purchase. He also said the gun was not locked. 

An Oakland County judge accepted the plea and set a Miller hearing date for Feb. 9, 2023. A Miller hearing is a type of pre-sentencing hearing specific to youth potentially facing life without parole. A sentencing date will be set after that hearing.

He was charged with 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.  

His lawyers had previously filed an insanity plea but they dropped that filing to go forward with the guilty plea. 

The Oxford High School shooting drew national attention, not just for the killings — but also for the prosecution of Crumbley's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley.

They’ve been ordered to stand trial Jan. 17 after they were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. His parents are accused of ignoring warning signs that may have led to the deadly rampage.

James and Jennifer Crumbley pleaded not guilty late last year.

'An important day' for the survivors and victims

In a news conference Monday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the guilty plea marked “an important day for our community, the survivors and especially those who lost children they loved.”

“We are not aware of any other case anywhere in the country where a mass shooter has been convicted of terrorism on state charges,” she said.

McDonald said there were no plea negotiations, no plea offers, reductions or sentencing agreements prior to his plea. 

She said she met with victims who were in court Monday, and noted it was the first time they heard the shooter speak on how he obtained his weapon.

McDonald said the Miller hearing will give the prosecution and defense a chance to present testimony and evidence about the shooting and hear details about the defendant’s background.

“At that hearing judge will decide whether life without parole is appropriate,” she said.  

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said he wants the shooter to get life in prison without the possibility of parole, calling him “a truly twisted and evil person.”

He praised first responders for going into the school and stopping the shooter, who had 18 rounds left in his firearm. 

“It’s my belief that he would have fired every one of those had he not been interrupted by deputies going immediately in, and when you compare it against Parkland or Uvalde, you obviously see the difference,” he said, drawing a comparison with the heavily criticized law enforcement responses to the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the May shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.

Ven Johnson, an attorney representing victims of the shooting in a civil lawsuit against the shooter, his parents and several school officials, called the guilty plea “one small step forward on a long path towards obtaining full justice for our clients.” 

“We will continue to fight until the truth is revealed about what went wrong leading up to this tragedy, and who, including Crumbley’s parents and multiple Oxford Community Schools employees, could have and should have prevented it,” Johnson said.

NBC News has reached out to Crumbley's attorneys for comment.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement following the guilty plea: “My thoughts are with the students, teachers, staff, and families of Oxford High. I hope this outcome offers them some peace after last year’s horrific shooting.”

“As Michiganders, we must do more to protect each other from gun violence. Let’s work together on background checks, secure storage, and red flag laws—commonsense gun violence prevention measures to keep our communities safe,” she said.