Michigan teen school killing suspect charged with terrorism; parents could also face charges

The 15-year-old school shooting suspect accused of killing at least four of his fellow students at a Michigan high school will be tried as an adult and faces murder, assault, and weapons charges in addition to one count of terrorism causing death, according to a Wednesday CNN report.

Seven other people were injured and wounded during the attack, which took place on Tuesday.

What’s a brief history here?

A subject opened fire in a school hallway on Tuesday, shooting at least 30 rounds at those in the hallway and through classroom doors.

During a Wednesday arraignment, the suspect pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Marc Keast said that the suspect emerged from a school bathroom and began firing on people in the hallway. He reportedly continued strolling the hallway at a “methodical pace” and continued the attack for at least another five minutes.

The suspect surrendered when deputies arrived on the scene.

Administrators previously flagged the student for “behavior in the classroom that they felt was concerning,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said during a Wednesday press briefing

Bouchard also announced in the briefing that the teen’s parents were at the school earlier on the morning of the attack to discuss their son’s concerning behavior.

What’s happening now?

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told the outlet that the teen now faces the terrorism charge in addition to murder and other charges related to the attack.

According to CNN, Michigan law defines an act of terrorism as a “willful and deliberate act that is all of the following,” listing “an act that would be a violent felony under the laws of this state, whether or not committed in this state,” “an act that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life,” and “an act that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion.”

“There is no playbook about how to prosecute a school shooting and candidly, I wish I’d never even had — it didn’t occur so I wouldn’t have to consider it, but when we sat down, I wanted to make sure all of the victims were represented in the charges that we filed against this individual,” McDonald said. “If that’s not terrorism, I don’t know what is.”

McDonald added that there is a great deal of digital evidence in the case — some of which ended up making its way onto social media.

“But you probably don’t even need to see that to know how terrifying it is to be in close proximity of another student shooting and killing fellow students. I mean, it’s terror,” she explained. “Like every other child that was in that building, and I address that about the terrorism charge, we must have an appropriate consequence that speaks for the victims that were not killed or injured but also, they were affected, how do they go back to school?”

On Wednesday, McDonald added that she is considering bringing charges against the teen’s parents.

Bouchard confirmed that the gun the teen is believed to have used was purchased by his father on Black Friday.

“We know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors,” McDonald said according to the Detroit Free Press. “We have to hold individuals accountable who don’t do that.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also told the outlet that state laws can impose parental accountability when minor children are involved in violent crimes.

“Theoretically, if you had a case where you had a teenager who had demonstrated some sort of instability, mentally or suicidal or homicidal thoughts or actions, or anything to that extent, and in addition to that you still allowed this child to have unfettered access to a weapon, then theoretically I don’t think it would be a huge stretch to charge the parents with involuntary manslaughter under those circumstances,” Nessel explained.

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