Oxford High shooting survivor suing gun dealer who allegedly sold weapon used in shooting, school district

·2 min read
The Acme Shooting Goods store in Oxford, Mich. on Dec.4, 2021.
The Acme Shooting Goods store in Oxford, Mich. on Dec.4, 2021.

An Oxford High School shooting survivor's family is suing ACME Shooting Goods, the Oxford gun dealership where James Crumbley allegedly purchased the weapon police say his son used to carry out the deadly November shooting.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court, also names the Oxford School District as a defendant. The student in the suit was a freshman when the shooting happened. He suffered a gunshot wound through his hand and face. A law firm associated with Brady United, a Washington, D.C.-based  anti-gun violence organization, filed the suit on behalf of the student's family.

It claims both the school district and the gun dealer were negligent in the days leading up to the Nov. 30 shooting that killed four students and injured six students and teacher. District officials were negligent in sending Ethan Crumbley, who is charged with murder and terrorism in the shooting, back to class after he showed numerous red flags, according to the suit.

The gun dealer, ACME, did not adequately prevent Crumbley from purchasing the weapon for his then-15-year-old son, the suit claims,  in what is known as a straw purchase. In Michigan, a person under the age of 18 cannot possess a handgun.

A representative who answered ACME's main phone line on Wednesday evening said they had no comment.

Erin Davis, one of the attorneys representing the student's family, said straw purchase cases can be successful in court. A 2014 Supreme Court decision upheld a law prohibiting straw purchases. Brady has been successful in similar suits in Missouri and Washington, D.C. 

"This immediately caught our attention as a suit where we saw that there would be liability against the gun dealer for their role in arming the shooter," Davis said.

According to remarks made by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in December, James Crumbley purchased a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 from ACME on Nov. 26. McDonald said a store employee confirmed Ethan Crumbley was with his father as he made the purchase.

On the same day, Nov. 26, the teenager posted photos on social media of the handgun, with the caption, "Just got my new beauty today."

Four days later, police say, the teen shot up his school

The parents named as plaintiffs in the suit, Matthew and Mary Mueller, both work at Oxford Middle School, Davis said. 

"They wanted to protect their community, and they wanted to protect the school district that their kids go to and that they work in," she said.

While this is one of nearly a dozen suits filed against the school district, it appears to be the first against ACME.

The student, who is 14 years old, has had surgical care to treat the injuries on his face, jaw and teeth, according to the suit. He is also still receiving counseling for the trauma caused by the shooting and its aftermath.

Contact Lily Altavena: laltavena@freepress.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Oxford High student sues gun dealer, school district