Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald says preventing future mass shootings in Michigan goes beyond her prosecution against the accused Oxford High School shooter and his parents. According to McDonald, “we really just don’t have gun laws in Michigan,” reiterating past public statements that she doesn’t think Michigan’s gun laws are adequate to address these kinds of tragedies.
“We have to be outspoken if we want things to change, we have to care enough to to approach something differently.” – Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald
“I am not going to rest with just prosecuting this case,” says McDonald on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, in one of the most in-depth interviews she has given about her charges in the Oxford High School mass shooting that killed four students and injured several others. “We have to be outspoken if we want things to change, we have to care enough to approach something differently.”
Listen: Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald gives one of her most in-depth interviews about the Oxford shooting
McDonald also walks through her reasoning for charging 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley as an adult, a move that has sparked some controversy. McDonald ran as a progressive prosecutor who emphasized juvenile justice reform and rehabilitation of young offenders when possible.
“I did run this on that platform and still believe we need to treat kids like kids,” she says. “However, I also was elected to be a compassionate and reasonable prosecutor and the factors that the law requires me to consider when we make a charging decision about treating an individual as a juvenile or adult are many factors, including the seriousness of the crime, but also the role that juvenile took and whether or not it was a premeditated or planned. You have to look at a lot of things.”
“The law also requires to make that meet to make that decision quickly because he’s a juvenile and he’s in custody,” McDonald continues. “So based on all the evidence that I’ve seen, only some of which is public. I think it’s an appropriate charge.”
“Looking at all of the evidence that is before me that I see now, there’s no way I would ever agree to take a chance that this individual will be released when he’s 21 years old. And any other path, any other decisions, that’s a potential outcome. And I just, that’s absolutely wrong,” says McDonald.
“I just couldn’t find…a path forward where we, as a county, would continue through this case without holding them criminally culpable, because they are.” – Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald
McDonald also addresses her decision to charge Jennifer and James Crumbley with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter, a very rare move by a prosecutor in a crime of this nature.
“I believe that those two individuals are criminally culpable,” she says. “They had every opportunity to stop this from happening. It was absolutely foreseeable. And they didn’t. And I just couldn’t find… a path forward where we, as a county, would continue through this case without holding them criminally culpable, because they are.”
She says she sees this as a possible turning point in how prosecutors across the country handle these cases and consider charges against parents if they believe negligence was a key factor in the crime.
“If that decision has an effect on how, as a state or a nation, we look at these sorts of crimes in terms of being responsible gun owners, then … I couldn’t be happier if we changed something because we know we need to change something.”