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EXPLAINER: Why was alleged Oxford school shooter charged with terrorism?

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald says it's not a typical charge, but says those who were shot aren't the only victims.
Credit: Oakland County Sheriff's Office
Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of shooting up Oxford High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan prosecutors are charging a teen with terrorism in a deadly mass shooting at his high school, a novel approach made possible by a law enacted after the 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years ago. 

The 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at his Michigan high school on Tuesday, killing four students and wounding seven other people, including a teacher, authorities said.

The suspect has now been identified as Ethan Crumbley, an Oxford resident. 

Crumbley was charged as an adult to first-degree murder and other crimes in the attack at Oxford High School. He has pleaded not guilty. He will be transferred to an adult corrections center, where he will stay in isolation. 

The victims who died have been identified as Tate Myre, a 16-year-old student, Hana St. Juliana, a 14-year-old student, Madisyn Baldwin, a 17-year-old student, and Justin Shilling, a 17-year-old student. 

Several of the victims are suffering life-threatening injuries, including one 14-year-old girl who is on a ventilator.

The state’s 2002 anti-terrorism law defines a terroristic act as one intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to affect the conduct of a government through intimidation or coercion. 

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald says it's not a typical charge, but says those who were shot aren't the only victims. She said thousands of kids were terrorized.

While presenting charges to the judge in the court room Tuesday, Lt. Tim Willis with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said Crumbley posted a video on Monday, saying wanted to bring a gun to Oxford High School the next day. His journal also detailed that he wanted to shoot up the school and kill his classmates.

There have been 29 deadly school shootings and 60 that have caused injuries in 2021, Education Week reports.

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