'His potential was boundless in life': Parents of teen killed in Oxford pen letter

·3 min read

The Oxford community mourns the teenagers who were killed and injured in Tuesday's school shooting — but no one feels more pain than the families of those lost.

Justin Shilling, 17, was the fourth student to die in the what appears to be the deadliest school shooting in the nation since 2018. His parents, still reeling from their tragic loss, penned a letter to some in the tight-knit Oxford community.

"The loss of Justin leaves such a gaping hole in our family that we cannot conceive of life without him," they wrote in the letter, obtained by the Free Press. "Our hearts are broken and yet still go out to the other families suffering this very same loss at this very same moment and which is beyond imagination, nothing any family should have to endure."

Shilling died at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday at McLaren Oakland Hospital. Seven others, including one teacher, were also wounded in the gunfire.

The suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, was taken into custody at the scene, and has since been charged on counts of terrorism, first-degree murder and more. Crumbley's parents also could face charges.

In the letter, Justin's parents acknowledged that their son meant so much to so many in the community. Not only is he their son, they said he's a grandson, a brother, a cousin, a classmate and a friend. They pleaded for people to keep "the importance of what has been lost" in the forefront of their minds — each child lost had so much more life to give, they wrote.

Shilling was a hard-worker, a dedicated student and an athlete.

"Justin was a scholar, part of Oxford School Districts Baccalaureate program and a university scholarship awardee," the letter reads. "He was a tireless worker with three jobs that he juggled along with his studies. He was (a) lettered athlete and had bowled with the Oxford High School Bowling team.

"His potential was boundless in life and yet in death he continues to give of himself as an organ donor. We feel the world can't have enough of Justin."

He played on Oxford's golf team and was a member of the bowling team, where he carried a 161 average, according to Mhsbowling.com. Last season, Justin won 32 games, lost five and tied one, according to the records.

One of his three jobs was at the Lake Orion location of Anita's Kitchen, a Middle Eastern restaurant.

"We’ve just learned of the passing of one of our bright, young Lake Orion employees, Justin Shilling, in relation to the tragic events that took place at Oxford High School yesterday," the company posted on its Facebook page. "Justin was an exemplary employee, a devoted friend and co-worker, co-captain of his bowling team, and simply a pleasure to be around. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

More: Latest updates on Oxford High School shooting: More details emerge on suspect

More: Oxford High School shooting is nation's deadliest since 2018

His parents expressed condolences to all other parents and families and friends who lost loved ones during the shooting, and thanked the community for all the support thus far.

"To the community thank you for all the outpouring of love and prayers," the parents said. "We can never express the gratitude we have in our hearts."

Contact Emma Stein: estein@freepress.com.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 'His potential was boundless': Parents mourn teen killed in Oxford

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