Wednesday, February 8, 2023

The Michigan School shooter is accused of terrorism. This is why it is so unusual.

The US reported another school shooting this week, in which 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley allegedly shot and killed four classmates at Oxford High School in Michigan on Tuesday.

He was quickly detained and charged on Wednesday with a number of charges: four counts of first-degree murder for those he killed, seven counts of assault with intent to kill those he wounded, a dozen counts of firearms in his rampage and one terrorism charge.

It is not hard to look at the mass shootings in America and characterize them as “terrorism.” But as far as the law is concerned, there is no national consensus. There is no federal domestic terrorism law, which means prosecutors must rely on other charges to put a criminal behind bars – although most Americans think there should be such a law.

There is also heated debate over whether we need a federal law on domestic terrorism, with ill-wishers, including civil rights defenders, fearing that such a law could be misused against civil rights activists.

However, some states, such as Michigan, have anti-terrorism laws that are broad enough to potentially cover mass shootings and label them as “terrorism” at the state level.

“This is not an ordinary, typical charge,” Oakland County Attorney Karen MacDonald said of the terrorism tally on Wednesday after reading the names of the victims.

She said that when her team sat down to discuss the charges that would apply to the shooter’s case, one question remained: “What about all these other kids?”

“What about all the kids who ran, screamed, hid under their desks?” MacDonald asked. “What about all the kids who are at home now, who cannot eat and cannot sleep, and cannot imagine a world in which they could ever return to this school? These are also victims, their families and communities too, ”she said. “And the terrorism charge reflects that.”

The Memorial Outside Oxford High School Continues To Grow On December 3, 2021 After Four Students Were Killed And Seven Injured On November 30 When Student Ethan Crumbley Allegedly Opened Pistol Fire On The School.
The memorial outside Oxford High School continues to grow on December 3, 2021 after four students were killed and seven injured on November 30 when student Ethan Crumbley allegedly opened pistol fire on the school.

Scott Olson via Getty Images

It’s not just Oakland County schools that are affected by the violence. More than 100 Michigan counties closed Friday on fear of copycat shooting; some school administrators have identified specific threats.

According to The Intercept, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks inspired more than half of the US states to include counterterrorism laws in their books, with 27 states enacting counterterrorism laws in 2002. Several others have passed anti-terrorism legislation in the following years.

The laws are different. The definition of terrorism by some states is more closely aligned with international Islamic terrorism, encompassing acts of mass destruction that are ideologically motivated.

Some are more broadly written — for example, Michigan law.

Marquette County Attorney Matt Wiese, who was also the past president of the Michigan Association of Attorneys, told HuffPost that the state’s anti-terrorism law would cover “the full spectrum” of violent crimes in which a person knowingly causes at least one death.

The law was very rarely applied. The first time, according to the state, was in 2012, when prosecutors charged a man with terrorism after shooting cars on I-96 for three days. Wiese said he was unaware of another case between 2012 and this year that used the anti-terrorism law.

Matthew Schneider, a former federal prosecutor who was involved in the 2012 case, told HuffPost that one reason mass shooters are not charged with terrorism is very often that anti-terrorism laws are “really not that old.” compared to, say, a murder statute.

When Dylan Roof shot nine people at the historically Black Church in South Carolina in 2015, the state charged him with murder. When Nicholas Cruz killed 17 people at his former high school in Parkland, Florida in 2018, he was charged with 17 murders, among other violations.

“I really think we’ll see this [terrorism] charge more often, ”Schneider said. Wiese also said he can see other states model counter-terrorism laws similar to Michigan.

“I think it would be helpful,” he said.

Schneider likened the anti-terrorism law to the Racket and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal racketeering law passed in the 1970s.

“The goal was to bring the mafia to justice. Well, today you are using the RICO statute for all sorts of accusations, ”Schneider said, citing corrupt politicians and street gangs as examples.

In another rather new move, MacDonald is also stalking Crumbley’s parents in connection with the Oxford school shooting incident. Both James and Jennifer Crumbley were charged Friday with four counts of manslaughter.

“I think this is a legitimate accusation based on the facts presented here,” Schneider said, adding that it could also be “something that we will see more and more.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news