Update 2:33 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28: This story has been updated with a statement from Oxford Community Schools.
Attorneys for the teen accused of killing four students at Oxford High School say they will argue he was insane at the time of the November shooting, according to a notice filed Thursday.
The notice, listed in a summary of case filings, should lead to mental health exams of the 15-year-old suspect, who is charged as an adult with murder and other crimes. Experts will consider whether the teen understood the wrongfulness of his actions on the day of the shooting, which also wounded six other students and a teacher.
A successful insanity defense could mean the teen would not serve prison time.
We’re sad and heartbroken — our lives forever changed.” —William Myre, father of Tate Myre
The notice comes as some families of the victims of the shooting are filing a lawsuit, which seeks at least $25,000, against Oxford High School’s dean of students, two counselors and three teachers as well as James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the alleged shooter. It’s the second civil suit against the school.
The suspect’s parents are accused of intentional, reckless and negligent conduct that led to the mass shooting. The Oxford High School staff and teachers are accused of gross negligence that led to the shooting by not removing the shooter from the school building earlier.
“Our focus is the safe and gradual return to school so all Oxford students can continue their educational journeys and continue to heal. Our attorney is reviewing the lawsuit and we will not be commenting until that review is complete. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those who were killed and injured and all those who were affected by the tragic events of Nov. 30,” according to a statement from Oxford Community Schools.
“Our lives forever changed”
School officials already face a lawsuit accusing them of not doing enough to safeguard students before the 15-year-old shooter allegedly gunned down four classmates. Those killed include student Tate Myre. The new lawsuit was filed Thursday in Oakland County Circuit Court on behalf of Tate Myre’s parents, William and Sheri.
“We’re sad and heartbroken — our lives forever changed,” William Myre said at a news conference Thursday. “Our family will never be the same. We’re not doing good. All we do is walk around the house and think about Tate. We think about him every day. We sit in his room. We listen to his playlist off Spotify. We’re not doing good, but we’re going to find a way to get through it together.”
Also named as plaintiffs are Chad and Meghan Gregory, whose son, Keegan, was hiding in a school bathroom with Justin Shilling when Shilling was fatally shot. The lawsuit also was filed on behalf of Lauren Aliano, whose daughters, Sophia Kempen and Grace Kempen, were hiding in classrooms during the shooting.
Keegan was texting his family from a bathroom stall where he and Shilling were hiding.
“He was in that bathroom for five minutes,” Chad Gregory said. “He was in there with a shooter who had just killed, wounded, injured. Justin gave him a plan that ‘if we get a chance, we will run.’”
“He called them out one-by-one and Justin happened to be the first,” said Chad Gregory, adding that after Shilling was shot, Keegan was able to flee the bathroom. The hallways were empty, and Keegan didn’t see anyone but another body on the floor, his father recounted, until he ran into a cop, who told him he should go outside.
Keegan’s family says he has never been the same since, turning very hard, quiet and paranoid.
“He’s nowhere near going back to class, let alone functioning like a normal 15-year-old child,” Meghan Gregory said. “We have to check doors. We have to check under beds.”
The family of Riley Franz, who was shot in the neck during the attack while standing next to her sister, Bella, filed a lawsuit in December. Both are listed as plaintiffs in the federal complaint, which alleges multiple failures on the school’s part to prevent the shooting.
The sisters are being represented by prominent attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who also represented the family of a student killed in the Columbine school shooting.
Students and staff returned to Oxford High School this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.