Teen Pleads Guilty to Terrorism, Murder Charges After Killing 4 in Michigan School

The 16-year-old charged with killing four in a Michigan high school has pleaded guilty. His parents, who gave him the gun as a gift, are set to face trial later this year.
Ethan Crumbley attends a hearing at Oakland County circuit court in Pontiac, Michigan.
Ethan Crumbley attends a hearing at Oakland County circuit court in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by David Guralnick-Pool/Getty Images).

The 16-year-old teenager accused of killing four and injuring seven more in a shooting at a Michigan high school has pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism charges. 

Last December, a student walked out of the bathroom of his Oxford, Michigan, high school and started firing a handgun into a crowded hall. Three students were killed in the hallway, another later succumbed to their injuries, and seven more were injured. 


The shooter attempted to enter into classrooms but was unable as the students and teachers locked the doors and barricaded themselves inside. Ethan Crumbley was arrested without incident on the school property shortly thereafter. The entire shooting took place in less than five minutes. The now 16-year-old was 15 at the time of the murders and is being tried as an adult. 

On Monday morning, the teenager pleaded guilty to all 24 charges that he faced, including one count of terrorism causing death  and multiple murder charges. It’s the first time a school shooter has faced state-level domestic terrorism charges. The prosecution told the Detroit Free Press that they had made no plea deal with him for any reduced sentencing. The teenager told the court he decided to make the guilty plea. His sentencing hearing has yet to be set. Juveniles being charged as adults cannot receive capital punishment or life without parole. 


Prosecutors said that the shooter was fascinated with serial killers and Nazi propaganda, and he once used the username “HeilHitler” and would frequently draw Nazi symbols. In his journal, he wrote explicitly about his desire to rape and kill a female classmate and about how much joy he got out of once torturing a bird. 

Prosecutors had previously said there was a “staggering amount” of evidence in the case. On the day of the shooting, the teenager was found with a drawing of a figure shooting people with the words “the thoughts won't stop, help me" and “blood everywhere” printed on the paper. He was sent to the principal's office but was allowed to return to class. 

The shooter had initially pleaded not guilty because of insanity. While the plea change limits the shooter’s trial, the incident will remain in the court, as another case is just around the corner. 

Following the shooting, the attention turned to the shooter’s parents, who police alleged could have done something to stop the massacre. A warrant was issued for the parents who went on the run for several days before eventually being caught and charged with manslaughter. Their trial was supposed to start today but was delayed in September

"Put simply, they created an environment in which their son's violent tendencies flourished. They were aware their son was troubled, and then they bought him a gun," prosecutors wrote of the shooter’s parents in a court filing.

Crumbley’s parents allegedly purchased a handgun for the eventual school shooter as a Christmas gift. At one point, Crumbley was discovered researching ammunition on his phone at school, and upon learning about this, his mother texted him “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You just have to learn not to get caught.”

A multimillion-dollar lawsuit has also been filed against the school for allegedly improper handling of the shooter in the lead-up to the shooting.