Michigan school officials at Oxford High School were ordered to preserve social media pages and other evidence in the school shooting case that were allegedly being destroyed.
“Not only did defendants fail to take necessary steps to preserve the evidence, but they willfully destructed the evidence by deleting the webpages and social media accounts,” attorney Nora Hanna wrote in a Friday court filing, according to The Detroit News. “Plaintiffs cannot continue to be blindsided by the defendants by having to search for what evidence is being destroyed or altered.”
A well wisher kneels to pray at a memorial on the sign of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., on 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)
Lawyers for siblings who survived the school shooting on Nov. 30 asked a U.S. District judge to order school officials to preserve such evidence and have social media companies restore missing profiles and posts.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg granted the request, ordering Superintendent Timothy Throne and High School Principal Steven Wolf to preserve information related to the case.
Hanna contends that one defendant’s LinkedIn profile was pulled down and a listing of high school administrators was removed from Oxford’s site. Attorney Geoffrey Fieger also sent preservation requests to companies and groups such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, the FBI, Department of Justice, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, according to The Detroit News.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, allegedly shot and killed four students and injured seven others at Oxford High School. (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office)
“It’s a lie … it’s disgusting,” lawyer for the Oxford school district, Timothy J. Mullins responded. “People think that the school district is withholding information? Everything that we have has been given to the prosecutor … everything they want we’ve given to them.”
The lawyers are also asking Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to save posts with hashtags #OxfordStrong, #OxfordSchoolShooting and #OxfordShooting from Nov. 30, and preserve any related posts sent from the school the day of the shooting.
Hanna represents sisters Riley Franz, 17, an Oxford High School senior, and Bella Franz, 14, a freshman. The request came one day after lawyer Geoffrey Fieger filed two lawsuits on behalf of the sisters’ parents, Jeffrey and Brandi Franz, against the school district and school employees.
The lawsuits seek $100 million in damages, arguing defendants “created the danger and increased the risk of harm that their students would be exposed to” ahead of the shooting. Riley was shot in the neck the day of the shooting and Bella “narrowly escaped the bullets discharged towards her,” according to the lawsuits.
OXFORD, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: People attend a vigil downtown to honor those killed and wounded during the recent shooting at Oxford High School on December 03, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan. Four students were killed and seven others injured on November 30, when student Ethan Crumbley allegedly opened fire with a pistol at the school. Crumbley has been charged in the shooting. Today his parents were also charged. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
“The individually named Defendants are each responsible through their actions for making the student victims less safe,” the lawsuit states. “The Oxford High School students, and Plaintiffs in particular, would have been safer had the Individual Defendants not taken the actions they did.”
Mullins also shot back at the lawsuits, calling them “bombastic stunts masked as legal filings” that “do a disservice to the people of Oxford and the people of Michigan.”
“These latest false allegations are baseless, reckless and totally irresponsible,” Mullins added in a statement to The Detroit News. “Mr. Fieger has named the wrong person in his sloppy legal filings and is refusing to retract his statements and dismiss him immediately, which is unconscionable.”
James and Jennifer Crumbley (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office) (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office)
“School employees continue to receive death threats, and Mr. Fieger is throwing gasoline on the fire with his shameless, callous and irresponsible tactics and angry rhetoric.”
The shooting left four students dead and seven other people wounded. Police quickly apprehended the suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, the day of the shooting.
Crumbley was charged with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each. They were apprehended last Saturday morning after an extensive manhunt when they didn’t show up for their arraignment last Friday.