Journal entries and audio recordings from Ethan Crumbley, the Michigan teenager who shot four of his high school peers to death and injured seven others in 2021, were read and played aloud Thursday during his sentencing hearing.
Crumbley pleaded guilty in October 2022 to 24 counts, including four counts of first-degree murder, after he killed 16-year-old Tate Myre, 16-year-old Justin Shilling, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021.
“I am going to be the next school shooter,” Crumbley said at the beginning of a 20-minute audio recording played aloud before the Oakland County court.
The school shooter kept his head down for the majority of Thursday’s hearing. Oakland County Judge Kwame Rowe is hearing evidence to help him decide whether Crumbley should be sentenced to prison without the chance of parole.
Crumbley also wrote, “The first victim has to be a pretty girl so she can suffer just like me.”
He referred to himself as “evil” and said he wanted to become famous for his crimes in notes discovered by investigators.
“I wish to hear the screams of the children as I shoot them,” Crumbley wrote in one journal entry. He also expressed the desire to drown children and throw a child “off a cliff.”
The now-17-year-old also said he did not plan on committing “suicide by cop” after shooting up Oxford High School “because he wanted to witness the suffering he created,” according to Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald.
In his own words, Crumbley called himself a “demon” and said he would understand if he were sent to prison for his crimes in a recording played aloud in court. He also talked about his belief that school, college, work and life in general are meaningless and that the U.S. education system is “brainwashing” working-class people.
Ethan Crumbley’s notes revealed that he planned to plead guilty to life in prison.
“I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison rotting like a tomato,” he wrote.
Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly buying a gun for their son. Jennifer Crumbley said in a social media post that the gun was a Christmas present for their son.
Prosecutors are arguing for life without parole for the school shooter.
“This is an offense unlike any other in this county or this state has ever seen, not just because of the number of children who died but the way the defendant killed them, the amount of research and planning and preparation that went into it, and the way he carried it out — the picking and choosing who would die,” McDonald said Thursday, adding that video footage shows Crumbley walking up to the victims and firing at them “at point-blank range” in the middle of the school’s hallways.
Crumbley pointed to his parents’ lack of attention as one of the driving factors behind his sadness in his notes read aloud in court.
In one of his journal entries, Crumbley said he had been “begging” his father for a 9 mm.
“This defendant has already pled guilty to killing the four victims who died, shooting seven other victims with the intent to kill them, and terrorizing everyone else who was at Oxford High School that day. He’s the only one who pulled the trigger,” McDonald said. “The parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Their gross negligence in buying their obviously troubled son a gun, for not securing it safely, and then for not doing anything about it when they saw the defendants’ drawings on the day of the shooting. They are not charged for being bad parents.”
The county prosecutor revealed in December 2021 that school officials met with Ethan and his parents to discuss violent drawings he created just hours before his deadly rampage. The suspect was able to convince them during the meeting that the concerning drawings were for a “video game.” His parents allegedly “flatly refused” to take their son home, McDonald said at the time.
Shortly after his parents left, Ethan shot up the school.
Crumbley’s attorney, Paulette Loftin, told the court on Thursday that it will become clear “that 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley is not one of those rare juveniles that is irreparably corrupt and without the ability to be rehabilitated.”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).