The security guard allegedly thought that a bleeding student was wearing “very realistic” makeup as part of an unannounced drill.
A group of parents who have filed Oxford Community Schools after a deadly mass shooting have amended their lawsuit to include claims that an armed security guard could have prevented the attack if she had taken action.
According to The Detroit News, an attorney for the families said that the security guard initially failed to respond to reports of an active shooting, believing that the attack was a drill and that an injured student was simply wearing “really good makeup.”
Ven Johnson, who was filed lawsuits on behalf of several teenage victims and their family members, leveled the allegation after reviewing surveillance camera footage of the attack.
Johnson’s review, adds the News, coincides with heightened public interest in law enforcement responses to atrocities.
Speaking at a Wednesday news conference, Johnson said that, in the roughly five minutes between the moment suspected shooter Ethan Crumbley opened fire on his classmates and law enforcement arrived at Oxford High School, on-site security personnel had several opportunities to subdue Crumbley before he surrendered to sheriff’s deputies.
If security had attempted to intervene, Johnson said, they could have saved the life of at least one student, 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
Shilling’s father, Justin Shilling, told reporters that he is devastated to know his son could be alive if only the security guard had responded to the sound of shots fired.
“It’s difficult to know that he could still be here,” Shilling said. “I’m never going to be the same.”
Johnson, says the Detroit News, constructed his chronology of events after reviewing surveillance camera footage that has not yet been publicly released.
Oakland County Sheriff’s Department officials declined the Detroit News’s request for comment.
After viewing the footage, Johnson moved to name the security guard—a retired Oakland County deputy—as a defendant in the families’ civil lawsuit.
The Detroit News reports that the guard’s LinkedIn profiles indicates that she had spent 28 years as an Oakland County sheriff’s deputy and had been employed as an Oxford Community Schools resource officer for at least two years.
Interestingly, the resource officer’s LinkedIn biography states that she was “involved in the November 30th school shooting.”
Despite the guard apparently viewing her actions as a resume-booster, Johnson said that the former deputy failed to adequately respond to the threat.
“At that time, (the guard) should have immediately turned on her body camera, called for backup and medical assistance, and taken affirmative action to expeditiously locate and confront (Crumbley) to prevent harm to other students,” Johnson wrote in the motion to amend the lawsuit.
After Crumbley began shooting at his classmates, Johnson said that the security guard saw a student’s body on the floor yet somehow failed to grasp the severity of the situation.
“She 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,” Johnson wrote in the petition.
Once the former deputy realized that the shooting was not a drill, she drew her firearm and opened the door to the bathroom where Crumbley was with Shilling and another student.
However, she did not enter the bathroom or attempt to immediately engage the shooter.
“Shortly thereafter, (Ethan Crumbley) shot Justin Shilling and threatened to shoot Keegan Gregory next,” Johnson wrote.
The guard “clearly had an opportunity to intervene and prevent Justin’s death,” Johnson added.
“[The guard] informed the investigators that she did not see anything or hear anything, which is why she decided not to enter the bathroom,” he said.
When active-duty deputies eventually entered the bathroom, Crumbley immediately surrenders.
Crumbley’s quick surrender, said Johnson, could serve as evidence that the security guard could have controlled the situation and saved Shilling’s life.
“This fact conclusively establishes that [Crumbley] would have surrendered had (the guard) entered the bathroom and confronted [Crumbley] before he shot Justin and threatened to shoot Keegan Gregory,” Johnson said.
While attorneys for the district did not respond for requests for comment, Oxford Superintendent Ken Weaver issued a statement praising students and staff’s reaction to the shooting.
“Review by a security expert confirmed our staff response reduced additional harm and loss of life,” Weaver said. “We are confident the investigation and third-party review of the events of that day will bring all of the facts to light. Safety continues to be our top priority at Oxford Community Schools. We will not be deterred and will continue our commitment of providing a high-quality education for our students in a safe educational environment as we continue to honor [victims] Justin, Madisyn, Hana and Tate.”