Copycat threats lead to school closures after Oxford violence

On Tuesday Nov. 30, 2021, an active shooter terrorized Oxford High School. The shooting left four students dead and seven others injured, including one teacher. In the days following the shooting, many schools within Oakland County, which contains Oxford, and throughout Michigan have faced “copycat” threats to their schools.

These threats are taken very seriously, especially after tragedies such as the Oxford shooting, and 86 schools within metro-Detroit closed down for the rest of the week. It is estimated that around 150 schools across Michigan closed down. Huron Valley School District is one of those schools that closed down in response. The Oakland County Sheriff’s office and the FBI have been working together to address all of these threats, which are considered an act of terrorism, which is a federal crime, and is why the FBI are involved in these cases.

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, after canceling school on Thursday and Friday due to online threats , Milford High School discovered a threat written on the wall in one of the boy’s bathrooms. Milford administration was faced with a difficult choice and decided to send all classes to online school for the following day. In order to resolve this issue with ample time and confidence, Milford high went online for the next day as well, Thursday, Dec. 9. These threats were deemed not credible. Principal Kevin Mckenna added, ”According to police, the intent was to cause disruption to the school day, but there was no plan to commit acts of violence.”

Even before the Oxford shooting, Huron Valley had taken precautions: training teachers and students across the district how to act efficiently if there was a serious danger posed against the school.

Assistant Principal Eric Dziobak said, ”One thing we’ve done is train the staff with what was known as ALICE protocols, which is now “run, hide, fight”.” ALICE- standing for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate- was replaced with the new plan to “run, hide, and fight” because it is simpler and easier to remember.

Students were taught evacuation routes in the case of this type of event. If evacuation is not possible, students are taught how and where to hide. Lastly, teachers have gone as far as to show students how to fight back, like throwing heavy textbooks or anything that they can find in the classroom. These drills are proven to be effective. “With the training that you guys got and the muscle memory of doing that, it showed, it paid off,” Deputy Gross said in response to how training helped in the case of the Oxford shooting. He noted that this training likely saved many lives, even though four students were unfortunately killed.

While taking these safety precautions is extremely important, administrators also believe that students and their safety are not in any harm. Dziobak added, “Milford is a very safe building… This is just a great place to be and I think we just take one day at a time moving forward.”

New precautions taking place include a heavier police presence. “We have two people walking around the building every day- building security- who are employed by the district,” said Dziobak. The increased awareness and safety protocols are one good thing to come of this tragedy. Other protocols include continued enforcement of the “no hats or hoods” policy,   “This is something that we can’t let control our lives,” said Dziobak, “but we can’t ignore it either”.

Since the events of Oxford, tensions have been high, and emotions have been heavy. Students and staff have been plagued with stress and worries with safety concerns.

“We look at ourselves as the parents of almost 1,300 children ” Assistant Principal Suminski added “…So it’s definitely more stressful when the good chunk of your family, so to speak, is scared and nervous.”


All flags in Michigan were lowered to half-staff through Dec. 12 after the school shootings that took place on Nov. 30 at Oxford High School (Photo by Jessica Henning).
Many MHS students wore blue and gold on Monday, Dec. 6 to honor the victims. Here, they are pictured with Bruce Maverick and a sign to help encourage students on a difficult day (Photo courtesy of Dave Gilbert).