DETROIT – The family of Justin Shilling, a high school senior killed in the Nov. 30 mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, has filed a federal lawsuit along with others against the school district, claiming officials could have done more to prevent the tragedy that left their son dead, they announced Monday.
Shilling's parents, Craig Shilling and Jill Soave, are plaintiffs in the suit filed Sunday, they announced in a news conference with attorney Ven Johnson in Detroit.
"I don't know how his soul can rest if the truth isn't out," Soave said.
The parents of shooting victim Tate Myre also joined the suit, the second suit in which they're plaintiffs. The parents of four surviving Oxford High students are also plaintiffs in the suit.
It claims Oxford employees ignored a district process for students experiencing suicidal ideation as then-15-year-old shooter, Ethan Crumbley, clearly appeared to meet the standards. Johnson shared a copy of Oxford's suicide intervention policy at Monday's news conference.
Four students, Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, Justin and Madisyn Baldwin, died in the shooting. Six other students and one teacher were also injured. St. Juliana's family are plaintiffs in a different civil suit in federal court against the district.
It is an emotional time for Oxford families as seniors move on from high school. Baldwin and Shilling were both seniors, and should have been at the school's graduation on Thursday. At the ceremony, Shilling's parents accepted his diploma and his siblings accepted the Oxford Cup, an award for students at the top of their class.
Soave, through tears Monday, shared the overpowering grief the family has felt since her son was killed.
"He was an old soul, so very wise and empathic. Justin motivated and uplifted all who knew him," she said. "A third of my very being, my heart and soul, was ripped away from me. ... Justin, Hana, Madisyn and Tate deserve justice."
Shilling and Soave have also joined the Myres in suing the Crumbley family and several Oxford school officials in Oakland County Circuit Court. That suit was filed in January and 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 the suspect before the shooting. The litigation is ongoing and the next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Johnson said.
Craig Shilling said the reality of his son's death felt like "an explosion in your mind," leaving a "gaping hole" in his life.
"We deserve to know what the hell went wrong for something like this to happen because identifying a problem is the first step to finding a solution and a proper solution can help prevent something like this from ever happening again," he said. "This is why we're here."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Justin Shilling's parents file federal lawsuit against Oxford Schools