Oakland County Deputies Struggle with Pain of Oxford Shooting, Says Sheriff Bouchard

December 08, 2021, 11:00 PM by  Allan Lengel

Sheriff cars at Oxford High School (Photo: Rebecca Cook)

Some deputies involved the Oxford shooting are "struggling" and seek counseling and other help, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Wednesday night.

"It's very difficult," Bouchard said in an interview with Deadline Detroit. "They're struggling with it because they did exactly what I asked them to do. And that is to go towards the gunfire. If they paused to calm someone or help someone, you can get five more victims in five seconds."

"That leaves them struggling with what they had to do to save lives. They're hurting a lot. They know it was the only right thing to do," he said, explaining that the teenage gunman had 18 live rounds left.

He said Tuesday night he met in Pontiac with a sheriff's advisory committee comprised of community and business leaders, who offer feedback and help. He said there were five comfort dogs there that were donated to the department, and people offered to give more. The dogs are used for therapy to help a person's mental health by reducing anxiety and providing attention and warmth.    

"I think everybody's hurting," he said. "I think the whole community is hurting. When I go to a coffee shop, I've had young girls and boys come up with tears in their eyes. I give them a hug because I can see that they're just right on the edge, and they're scared. People are afraid, they're hurting. We're doing everything we can to help them feel safe and let them know that we're going to work hand in glove with the prosecutor to hold people responsible."

Michael Bouchard: "It's very difficult."

Bouchard was also asked Tuesday night by some at the advisory meeting about the role of  Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has offered to help investigate the case, but has been rebuffed by the school district. When asked about that Wednesday by Deadline Detroit, he said:

"We haven't asked for any help from the attorney general because we haven't needed it. We're working  in constant contact with our prosecutor."

He said he hasn't needed any help from any agency collecting evidence because he has 30 people in his crime lab. 

But he said he requested assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, which was involved in the search of shooter Ethan Crumbley's parents, and  from the FBI and U.S. Secret Service in areas like cyber and digital evidence.  

Willing to Ask for Help

He said he's not afraid to ask for any agency's support, if needed.

"This is all about getting it done, right? 

Attorney General Dana Nessel

But he said at this point the attorney general can't offer any additional tools his department doesn't already have.

"It's like if you've got a qualified doctor in the operating room and he's doing an appendicitis and somebody is standing outside that's a qualified doctor that can do an appendecitis; you both can't be doing surgery at the same time.

"If we need we're going to take it," he said.

Nessel issued a statement Monday:

"I am extremely disappointed that the school district chose to decline my offer to devote the full resources of the Department of Attorney General to review the events leading up to and on November 30th. This tragedy demands a united effort from all of us who serve the Oxford community.

"Despite this outcome, my department will continue to support the ongoing criminal investigation in Oakland County and looks forward to meeting with parents, students and teachers when they are ready to share their thoughts." 

Displayed around the village (Photo: Rebecca Cook)

On another note, Bouchard said the investigation continues into Andrzej Sikora, the artist who has a Detroit studio where the shooter's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were found last Saturday and arrested on outstanding warrants for involuntary manslaugther. Sikora said he had no idea they had been criminally charged when they came to the studio and that they stayed after he left.

Bouchard said "we are in the analysis phase," explaining that investigators are looking at cell phones, laptops and iPads "to determine if there's anything that's either corroborative or contradictory to what he said in a very open and cooperative interview with our investigators.

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