OXFORD, Mich. (AP) — An armed security officer told investigators she thought an active shooting at a Michigan high school was a drill and that one of the bleeding students simply was wearing “really good makeup,” an attorney suing the school district said Wednesday.
Attorney Ven Johnson said he is asking a judge to add the security officer’s name to a lawsuit he filed in January against Oxford Community Schools. The suit also names Oxford High School’s dean of students, two counselors and three teachers as defendants.
Johnson said in an amended complaint that school surveillance video he recently reviewed shows the security officer “casually walking around in the hallway” during the Nov. 30 shooting at the high school about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit.
“She apparently, according to what she told investigators, she was confused because she heard on the radio that there was an ALICE drill,” Johnson told reporters.
ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
Johnson said the explanation makes no sense because there is no indication that anyone else at the school was notified that a drill was scheduled that day. Such notifications are routine to prevent panic.
The security officer, who also is a retired deputy with the Oakland County sheriff’s office, can be seen in the surveillance footage opening a door to a bathroom and saw two of the students — one who was later killed and one who was later injured. She did not go inside, Johnson said.
Prosecutors have said student Ethan Crumbley entered a bathroom with a backpack and came out with a semi-automatic handgun, firing at students while moving down the hallway. The four students who were killed were 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
“Had she done her job, at least the death of Justin (Shilling) would have been prevented for sure,” Johnson said.
He wrote in the complaint that the officer also “saw Tate Myre’s body on the floor with him bleeding to death and informed the investigators that she thought he had ‘really good makeup’ on.”
Timothy Mullins, an attorney for the school district, dismissed Johnson’s allegations as “untrue,” suggesting that not only did the security officer not believe the shooting was a drill but suggested she acted courageously.
“When the facts are known, a single woman without any backup will be shown to be going towards the shooter,” Mullins told The Associated Press Wednesday. “No backup, unaided, no Kevlar, no waiting, (but) singularly exposing herself to the event.”
Crumbley, now 16, faces murder and other charges. His trial is expected to start in January. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are charged with involuntary manslaughter and accused of failing to keep the gun used in the shooting secure at home and failing to reasonably care for their son when he showed signs of mental distress. They have pleaded not guilty.
Also, at least two lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the families of the students who died, were injured or traumatized by what happened.