The family of 16-year-old Tate Myre — one of the four students killed in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School — along with three other Oxford students, announced Thursday their plans to sue the shooting suspect's family, two Oxford school counselors and multiple unnamed teachers.
The suit accuses the Crumbley family of reckless conduct and claims Oxford school officials could have done more to prevent the tragedy by spotting alarming signs exhibited by suspect Ethan Crumbley before the shooting, which left seven people injured, attorney Ven Johnson said during a news conference.
The school district and counselors could not be immediately reached for comment. In response to a different lawsuit, the district has disputed multiple claims, including that officials witnessed Crumbley bring ammunition to school or that they were aware of posts on social media.
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Myre's parents, Buck and Sheri Myre, sat alongside Johnson at the news conference at the Westin Hotel in Southfield. Taking several moments to pause, Buck Myre described the excruciating grief the family is feeling, pacing around their home, thinking of Tate and listening to his music.
Myre listed all the milestones Tate will miss: birthdays, his wedding, his brother's wedding, having children, being an uncle and Christmas, a holiday Tate cherished.
"The ball was dropped," he said. "And there needs to be accountability here."
The suit claims Ethan Crumbley's parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, ignored signs their son was struggling mentally. Furthermore, the suit claims that Jennifer Crumbley ignored a phone call from an Oxford counselor, Pam Parker Fine, after a teacher witnessed the student viewing ammunition on his cellphone.
One of the students filing suit is Keegan Gregory, who was with his friend, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, when Shilling was shot. The suit describes the horrific moment Gregory witnessed Crumbley shoot his friend in a bathroom. The student is now struggling with the trauma, the suit claims, including severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Our son came home," Chad Gregory, Keegan's father, said Thursday. "And he was ice cold, like a rock. No emotion. He didn’t hug us back. ... We're changed forever."
Chad Gregory called Shilling an "angel," who helped his son formulate a plan to run away as soon as he could during the shooting.
What did counselors, teachers know?
The suit accuses counselors and teachers of knowing enough disturbing facts about Crumbley and failing to report his behavior to authorities.
The complaint names counselors Parker Fine and Shawn Hopkins, saying they had an obligation under Michigan child protection laws to report Crumbley's behavior to Child Protective Services.
Nicholas Ejak is also named in the suit, which states that Ejak was Oxford's dean of students at the time.
According to the lawsuit, Ejak and Hopkins advised Crumbley's parents to immediately seek psychiatric help for their son on the morning of the shooting, after Ethan Crumbley made a drawing with the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me," along with a drawing of a person who appeared to have been shot twice.
Hopkins and Ejak also did not search the student's backpack, but had just cause to do so, Johnson claimed.
"All you have to do is make one call, call 911," Johnson said.
Instead, Jennifer and James Crumbley apparently refused to seek immediate help and did not want to take their son home, Johnson said.
Why are families suing?
Government immunity may help shield officials from legal liability. Buck Myre condemned the Michigan law that grants such immunity.
"The other thing that we hope comes out of this is a change in legislation for government immunity," Myre said.
Johnson also condemned the law. To succeed in the suit, the attorney will have to prove a higher standard of negligence called gross negligence. Because of immunity, it's likely this case will be drawn out, Johnson said.
"This case will go up on appeal and will take literally years and years because of the extra steps that we have to go through here in Michigan," he said.
The Myres plan to launch a foundation in Tate's name and football number, 42. The foundation will pair struggling students with student mentors.
"He loved to mentor kids," Buck Myre said of Tate.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Family of Tate Myre to sue alleged Oxford shooter, school employees