Authorities identified 16-year-old Tate Myre, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling as two of the students who died when Ethan Crumbley, 15, opened fire Tuesday in the hallways of Oxford High School, killing four and wounding several others.
JaVon Pittman, who was in the building at the time of the attack, told Fox News host Martha MacCallum that while many of his classmates are still in a state of “shock,” he felt compelled to honor the memory of his friends publicly.
“I wanted the world to know how good of friends Tate and Justin were and how they were just good kids,” Pittman said. “[They] did what they had to do. Went in there, worked hard.”
Tate Myre, a junior and captain of the football team, has been described as a hero by his peers for rushing toward the shooter in an attempt to disarm him. A petition has since circulated that calls on the school to rename its Wildcat Stadium after him for sacrificing his life to save his classmates.
“Tate always worked hard at practice,” Pittman said. “He would always give encouraging advice. He was our captain, one of our captains for our football team … and a leader he was.”
Justin Shilling, a member of the school’s bowling and golf teams, was transported to the hospital but died from his injuries on Wednesday morning.
(Oakland County Sheriff’s Office)
Pittman said Shilling had a “great attitude” and approach to life.
“He was a good friend. He had a great smile. Always was there to make you laugh. He was such a smart kid,” he said.
Sheriff Mike Bouchard revealed Wednesday that Crumbley’s parents were called to the school Tuesday “for behavior in the classroom that was concerning.” Their son remained in school, and the shooting occurred just hours later.
Pittman said he had not seen concerning behavior from Crumbley prior to the shooting, telling MacCallum that his initial thought was, “I don’t know why he would do this. I didn’t know anything.”
Vontysha Pittman, who joined her son in the interview, questioned why Crumbley’s parents didn’t take him home from school after they were alerted about his behavior.
An Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy hugs family members of a student in the parking lot of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school, killing several students and wounding multiple other people, including a teacher. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
“I couldn’t believe – as a parent, as a mom, you know your kid. You know their behavior even before the dad because you carry these kids,” she said. “So I just think that at that moment, being called in the previous day and that morning, I would have had to have a serious talk with my kid and say, ‘What is going on with you?’” she said.
“We don’t put it on the school administration to send him home, but as parents, it’s our responsibility to know what is best for our kids and to know our kids.”
“My heart goes out to his parents, too, because I couldn’t imagine what they’re going through,” Mrs. Pittman continued. “That’s an awful [thing] to get a call, that your child caused this heartache and mayhem. I wish they would have taken him home that day.”