(NEW YORK) — Victims of the 2021 Oxford school shooting in Michigan appeared in court to give emotional testimony Friday in a hearing that will determine whether the shooter, Ethan Crumbley, could be sentenced to life in prison or have the possibility of parole.
The hearing — called a Miller hearing — is being held due to Crumbley’s age. He was just 15 at the time of the shooting, and juveniles in the state of Michigan are not automatically sentenced to life without parole like adults for first-degree murder. A separate hearing will be held for his sentencing.
Crumbley, who pleaded guilty to killing four fellow students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school, appeared in court for the hearing that began Thursday.
Heidi Allen, a 17-year-old survivor of the Oxford High School shooting, took the stand on Friday to testify about seeing the shooter enter the hallway and shoot several students, some fatally.
Allen — a 10th grader at the time of the shooting — was headed to the bathroom when she came across the shooter.
Allen said she recognized the shooter as soon as he entered the hallway, having known him since middle school, but said the two were never friends. Allen said she couldn’t believe it was Crumbley when she saw him waiving the gun.
“I just didn’t understand how somebody could do something like that,” Allen said.
Crumbley then opened fire on all the students in the hall, including 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin — who were both killed in the shooting — and 14-year-old Phoebe Arthur — who was injured.
“I saw Phoebe get shot, I saw her boyfriend [get shot], then I saw a group of girls [get shot], then I looked away,” Allen said.
“I just prayed and I covered my head because I didn’t know if those were my last moments,” Allen said.
Allen said that she dropped to the floor and didn’t raise her head until she felt Crumbley walk or run past her.
“It was very quiet. There was no screaming nothing. It was just the gunshots,” Allen said.
When she opened her eyes she saw two girls “just laying there” in the hall and another girl in front of her. Allen said she asked everyone if they were OK and only Arthur responded.
“I asked everybody in the hallway from where I was at if anybody had been hit and nobody had answered me because they couldn’t,” Allen said.
Arthur, who was shot in the neck and chest, began to cry in the hall and started bleeding, Allen said. Allen said she helped Arthur into an empty classroom and locked the door, putting pressure on her wounds and trying to keep her awake.
“There was just blood everywhere,” Allen said. “Blood on her clothes. And then it was starting to get on me, but we didn’t know where it was coming from.”
“I thought maybe it wasn’t her arm but then she took her shirt off and it was right on her chest area. And then there was another shot I believe on her neck. And so I immediately took her sweater and I put pressure on it because it’s all I know how to do. I don’t know how to handle that stuff,” Allen said.
The two girls then called their parents while they waited for police to come.
“I just kept reassuring her that she would be OK,” Allen said.
“Then I started to pray with her because I didn’t know what else to do,” Allen said.
Teacher testifies on being shot
Molly Darnell — a teacher at Oxford High School who was working as an administrator on the day of the shooting — was the first to give emotional testimony Thursday, recalling making eye contact with Crumbley moments before she was shot.
Darnell testified that she was trying to attach a lock to the door of a classroom she uses as an office after a lockdown began on the day of the shooting, when she made eye contact with Crumbley through the glass in the door. He then shot three bullets in her direction.
She was struck by one of the bullets as she jumped away from the door, with the bullet going through her arm.
“I remember thinking in my head, ‘No orange tip.’ I had heard previously that BB guns have an orange tip on them — so my thought was no orange tip and that’s when I jumped to the side, to my right,” Darnell said.
Not yet realizing she was shot, Darnell tried to block the door with a filing cabinet but she said it was too heavy to move.
“I got down on my hands and knees and I crawled back and I dropped that lock in and then I grabbed the rolling cabinet and I shoved it against the door on the wall,” Darnell said.
“I was still in disbelief that I had been shot, but what I knew was I was bleeding,” Darnell said.
Still under lockdown, Darnell texted her husband telling him she loved him, told her daughter she was safe and exchanged messages with other staff in the building. Darnell remained in her office until police came to the door and escorted her out of the building.
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