Chilling video shows fear, chaos inside classroom after Oxford High School shooting

A detective is heard saying it's safe to come out but the students refused, believing it might be a trick from the gunman


By Kristen Jordan Shamus
Detroit Free Press

OXFORD, Mich. — Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard debunked a TikTok video that shows students cowering inside an Oxford High School classroom during Tuesday's shooting, hiding from the gunman when a knock on the door sent them scrambling out a window.

The assumption that many people made upon watching the video, Bouchard said, was that the gunman was lurking outside the classroom door, trying to trick classmates into coming out by saying it was safe. He used the word "bro."

But it's now certain that the man knocking on the door was not the gunman, he said.

"I want to clear up some of the incorrect information that keeps circulating," Bouchard said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. "Social media keeps ginning up a great deal of false information.

"We have now been able to determine that was not the suspect. More than likely, it was one of our plain-clothes detectives, and he may have been talking, 'bro' in a conversational manner to try to bring them down from the crisis.

"The suspect, we have now confirmed by analyzing all of the video from the time it began to the time we took him into custody never knocked on a door."

The video from inside the school is chilling: It shows students cowering together in the back of a classroom, hiding as an armed gunman rips through the halls, killing four and injuring eight others.

[RELATED: How LE and school administrators can train together for active shooter response]

Then, comes a knock on the door.

"Sheriff's office. It's safe to come out," a voice from outside the classroom says.

Inside, a man replies: "We're not willing to take that risk right now."

The person outside is insistent.

"It's OK," the voice says. "Open the door. It's all right, bro."

When students hear the person outside use the word "bro," pandemonium erupts.

They quickly come to the conclusion that it's the shooter because a sheriff's deputy would be unlikely to use the word "bro."

"He said bro," a teenage boy says, standing up amid the chaos. "Red flag."

Students rush to a window, open it and begin to run into an outdoor courtyard.

@shwifty766

All prayers out for Oxford high school and to all my classmates #prayers #prayersneeded #oxfordhighschool #fyp #fypシ #capcut

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Recorded on a cell phone and widely shared on social media, the video shows the students racing to safety, going back inside the school through a different door, where a sheriff's deputy tells them: "Slow down. You're fine."

Authorities have arrested a 15-year-old student in the mass shooting. He was identified Wednesday as Ethan Crumbley of the Village of Oxford. The county prosecutor is seeking to charge him as an adult on terrorism, first-degree murder and use of a firearm charges.

Bouchard told CNN Wednesday: "We've recovered some evidence that we're now beginning to pore over. I've seen some of the actual video of the shooting itself. And it's clear that he came out with the intent to kill people. He was shooting people in close range, oftentimes towards the head or chest."

He fired bullets through some barricaded doors, Bouchard said.

"We know he couldn't get into some of those classrooms, and I think that saved lives," he said. "So the only silver lining is that our training and their training saved lives."

[RELATED: Katherine Schweit on how to end mass shootings]

Still, he said, "the tragedy is not lost on us." A fourth student, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died Wednesday morning. The other three students who died as a result of the shooting are:

Tate Myre, a 16-year-old football player, who died in a sheriff's deputy's car en route to the hospital
Hana St. Juliana, 14
Madisyn Baldwin, 17
Six other students were shot as well, and were treated at area hospitals.

A 47-year-old teacher also was wounded in the mass shooting. The teacher, Bouchard said, "has been thankfully discharged. She had a left shoulder gunshot wound that appears to have been a grazing wound."

Mark Kluska, a freshman interviewed by CNN, said he recorded the video posted to TikTok of students hiding inside their sign language class. He said he heard someone announce a lockdown over the schools loudspeakers, and quickly realized it wasn't a drill. His teacher secured the door.

When they heard the knock, and someone outside say "bro," the teacher signaled to the students that they should jump out the window and run.

"We're going through hours of video and we've obviously got to interview over 1,800 people who are students at that school," Bouchard said. "So we've got to interview every student or every potential faculty member that they have seen or for something that's relevant.

"We want to make sure that we get everything 100% done. I want to hold this person accountable and the community needs to see that happen. I mean, this is a very calm, sweet, peaceful, quiet community. And this has shaken them to the core."

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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