Faith leaders work to extend support as guilty verdict comes down in Crumbley Trial

Posted at 5:21 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 17:21:58-04

OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — After a long two years, parents of Oxford shooting victims say they were breathing a sigh of relief following guilty verdicts in both James and Jennifer Crumbley's trials.

“We got this behind us. It was a big step. We had our small bit of accountability on both sides and now we have to go for the big picture and wrap this thing up and hold everyone accountable,” said Craig Shilling, father of Justin Shilling, told reporters Thursday night.

Shilling’s son was one of four students killed in November 2021. Shilling joined parents of victims Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, and Madisyn Baldwin Thursday at a press conference following the guilty verdict.

A jury convicted both James and Jennifer Crumbley on four counts of involuntary manslaughter after the prosecution showed they were negligent in the handling of a gun and their son, the shooter's, mental health and could have prevented the tragedy.

The parents said they’re now looking to get answers for leaders at the high school.

“It’s a long road, it's a hard road, but we’re all determined to go down that road,” said Steve St. Juliana.

While sentencing is still ahead and civil litigation is pending in response to the tragedy, local faith leaders say they are hoping to extend support as the community continues to heal.

“I think after hearing the verdict there were equal parts relief and I’m glad this is going the way it did, at the same time there’s still emptiness and sorrow,” said Pastor Jesse Holt.

Holt is the Pastor at Lakepoint Community Church. He says the afternoon of the shooting he watched emergency vehicle after emergency vehicle fly past his home.

Holt says some of the students who were inside the high school that day were a part of his congregation. The church decided to open its doors that night to those who needed help processing.

“I remember saying ‘What Oxford was yesterday we are no longer.’ So we have to have a place, we have to create space to be who we are now because we’re no longer who we once were as a community, as people,” Holt recounted.

Holt says as the wheels of justice turn, it will be important for faith leaders and community members to be a listening ear.

“I think there’s a difference between being healed and healing. I think we are healing. It’s a constant movement forward working through the pain and the trauma that you have,” said Holt.

When asked if he had any words of encouragement for students and families still working through trauma Holt said the following,” I think what I would do is turn that around and thank them for being models to the rest of us who don’t have that same pain, who don’t have that same experience with their pain. They’re modeling for us that they’re overcoming what has been done to them.”

Jennifer Crumbley is set to be sentenced on April 9. It’s unclear when James Crumbley will learn his sentence.