Attorney claims school security guard could have stopped Oxford HS shooting

Attorney claims school security guard could have stopped Oxford HS shooting
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Could the shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan last November have been stopped before four students were killed? Yes, according to the attorneys for one of the victims, who says that surveillance footage from inside the high school shows an armed school security guard “casually walking around in the hallway” while the attack was taking place.

According to attorney Venn Johnson, the security guard told investigators that despite coming across student Tate Myers after he was shot, she was under the impression that the school was going through an active shooter drill.

“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.

… 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.”

You would think if the high school was undergoing an active shooter drill they would have informed the armed security on duty that morning, which does make the explanation that Johnson says the guard told investigators more than a little suspect.

The school district, however, is disputing Johnson’s version of events.

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.”

Well, there’s one easy way to help resolve the disputed stories: release the surveillance video. It can be edited to blur any students seen in the footage, but we’d at least have a better idea of what the security guard was doing while the shooting was taking place.

According to Johnson, after the guard saw Tate Myers injured on the floor, she realized that this might not have been a drill but still failed to take the appropriate action to stop the attack.

Video showed her then walk to the bathroom where Justin Shilling, Keegan Gregory, and [the] accused shooter were, Johnson said. She is seen on the video opening and closing the door with her gun in hand before walking away. Shilling was shot after she walked away.

Shilling, who died the next day, was the fourth and final victim.

“It’s difficult to know that he could still be here,” said Craig Shilling “You get paid to do a job. Why wouldn’t you do it?”

Johnson said Potts told investigators she didn’t know why she was opening the door, and she didn’t hear or see anything.

Keegan Gregory’s mother Meghan Gregory, whose son managed to escape being shot, said the video looked like Potts walked in and right back out of the bathroom.

“It was an absolute punch to the gut,” she said.

The high school administration has also been criticized for allowing the suspected shooter to remain in school even after a meeting with his parents the morning of the attack in which school officials said that the student would not be allowed to return until his parents had provided evidence that he was receiving mental health treatment. And of course the suspect’s parents are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly ignoring all of the warning signs that were present while allowing him access to a pistol kept in the family’s home.

There were multiple points of failure leading up to the attack last November, and I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about the actions of the security guard based solely on the word of a plaintiff’s attorney, but the allegations raised by Johnson are incredibly serious and shouldn’t be brushed aside by the school district or investigators. We know that a fast response to a shooting saves lives, and if the guard was in a position to act and failed to do so it won’t just be the families of victims who are asking “why”?