LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – An independent investigation into the November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School has been released.
“Our investigation has revealed that had proper threat assessment guidelines been in place and District threat assessment policy followed, this tragedy was avoidable,” the report’s authors wrote. “Our independent investigation established that the Shooter was not identified as a threat because individuals at Oxford High School failed to recognize on November 30, 2021, that the Shooter’s conduct, statements, and drawings suggested that he might cause physical harm at the school. As a result, these individuals did not escalate the Shooter’s conduct to the OHS principal, as required by District policy, and therefore the school did not perform a threat assessment of the Shooter. If an effective threat assessment had been done on November 30 – a threat assessment that complied with District policy and proper guidelines and was guided by an important District form – the Shooter would have been identified as posing a potential threat of violence. However, the responsibility for this failure does not lie solely with these individuals who interacted with the Shooter on November 30. Individuals at all levels of the Oxford Community Schools also bear responsibility for the tragedy that occurred at OHS on November 30, 2021, as set forth in detail in this report.”
The nearly 600-page report applauds the actions of students and district personnel during the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting that left four teenagers dead, and six students and a teacher wounded.
“In many ways, the District succeeded in this mission before and when the shooting started. Certain elements of District emergency training and physical security measures saved lives that day,” the investigators report. “Hundreds of OHS students followed the training that they had received from OHS to evacuate, lockdown, or otherwise take cover during an active shooter situation, and the door barricading devices installed by the District worked. Moreover, both students and District personnel heroically tried to save lives.”
Despite this praise, the investigators say individuals at “every level of the District,” had “failed to provide a safe and secure environment.”
While the investigators blamed the shooter and his parents, they also found there was greater responsibility at play.
“While we did not find intention, or callousness, or wanton indifference, we did find failure and responsibility by omission,” investigators wrote. “In short, responsibility too often was denied 6 and shifted elsewhere. Taken together, when responsibility everywhere rests elsewhere, it rests nowhere.”
Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin in a statement released Monday night says she recognized the pain of the Oxford community.
But she says it’s her job as a lawmaker to “act upon this report to hopefully prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again in our community – to learn the painful lessons of Oxford and apply them to every school in Michigan.”
She continued, “We will never be able to prevent every terrible thing that can happen, but we can learn from the past to ensure history does not repeat itself. In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be reaching out to the K-12 leadership in Mid-Michigan and both state and federal legislators to take steps to prevent a tragedy like what occurred at Oxford from ever happening again.”