Oxford High School shooting hits home for Detroit Lions coaches: ‘It’s brutal’

Detroit Free Press

Todd Wash was coaching at Fort Lewis College in Colorado in 1999 and was recruiting in the city of Denver at the time of the Columbine shooting that spring.

Twenty-two years later, Wash still remembers the shock and sadness he felt about Columbine, a feeling that enveloped him again when he heard the news of Tuesday’s school shooting in Oxford.

“It hits home,” Wash, the Detroit Lions’ first-year defensive line coach, said Wednesday, choking back emotion. “I got a son that has to go to school every day, so it’s scary. But our thoughts and prayers are with them. It hits just because we all have children and when they go to school, they should be safe. And that’s not the case. So that hits a little bit, with all of us, as a parent. And it’s sad, but once again our thoughts and prayers go out to them as a community and as a high school.”

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Four students were killed and seven people, including one teacher, were injured when police say a 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley fired more than 30 shots in an attack at Oxford High.

Wash said he talked Tuesday night with his son, Marcus, a 16-old sophomore who attends school in Florida, about the shooting and “just about being safe.”

“(If you) see some of the warning signs with teammates — he plays football down there — if you see something, you got to say something,” Wash said. “But it’s a scary, scary deal and as parents we got to do a better job in the United States of raising our kids. That’s how I feel. I don’t want to get into all that stuff.”

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Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone said he sent Oxford football coach Zach Line, his former teammate with the New Orleans Saints, a text on Tuesday offering his support.

Line played the 2017-19 seasons in New Orleans, when Lions coach Dan Campbell was an assistant with the team. Campbell said he intended to reach out to Line on Wednesday.

“I feel like there’s no better person in that position to really get them through, help the community get through a situation like this,” Anzalone said. “I think that as far as a person, a God-fearing person, all the things that you’d want in a leader in a situation like that, he has. He’s strong and he’s faith filled, so he’ll be able to help the community get through this really bad time.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said Wednesday she is seeking an array of charges against Crumbley, including four counts of first-degree murder and one charge of terrorism causing death.

One of the victims, Tate Myre, 16, was a standout player on Oxford’s football team who had drawn recruiting attention from colleges.

Myre died in a patrol car as he was rushed to a hospital, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 56,000 people had signed a petition on Change.org asking Oxford to rename its football stadium in Myre’s honor.

Campbell said he was “shocked” when he learned of the shooting.

“That’s not something you want to hear or think about,” he said. “And so when you hear it, it hits you like a ton of bricks, especially when you’ve got kids and you think about whether they’re young or whether you’re in high school and you know they’re going to school and that’s the last thing we’re thinking. It’s brutal.”

Like Wash, Campbell has one child in high school: His daughter, Piper, who he said he reached out to Wednesday morning.

“Told her have a good day and just want to make sure that she knows I care about her, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Campbell said. “We’re not guaranteed anything on this earth, so you just live — you live each moment like it could be your last cause you don’t know. And that’s kind of the reality behind it. It’s awful.”

Lions quarterback Jared Goff said he, his teammates and the entire Lions organization are “looking for ways to help and support and really be that positive light” for the Oxford community.

Goff was in his third season with the Los Angeles Rams when a gunman killed 13 and injured 16 more in a shooting at a Thousand Oaks, California, bar frequented by college students.

The Rams hosted families of the victims at their Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs about a week after the shooting, an experience that Goff said remains one of the most powerful things he’s experienced in his career.

“It was just a special night,” Goff said. “And to see them after the game, just a week removed from losing a family member, the light of joy that we could provide the people in times like that, it’s not to be understated and it’s part of our responsibility as leaders of the community and just what we’re able to do to help raise those people up and be there for them.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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