Parents of Justin Shilling file federal lawsuit alleging negligence from Oxford employees

Posted at 2:28 PM, May 23, 2022 and last updated 12:48 AM, December 13, 2022

By: Simon Shaykhet

(WXYZ) — Nearly six months after the deadly shooting at Oxford High School, the parents of one of the students who was killed has broken their silence and filed a new federal lawsuit.

Justin Shilling was one of four students killed in the shooting on Nov. 30. On Monday, attorney Ven Johnson blasted Oxford school employees in the lawsuit. At the heart of the claim, they allege a suicide prevention policy was ignored.

Photographs of four students —Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16 and Justin Shilling, 17 — sit among bouquets of flowers, teddy bears and other personal items left at the memorial site on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., after a 15-year-old allegedly killed these four classmates, and injured seven others in a shooting inside the northern Oakland County school one week earlier. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

Johnson said gross negligence on the part of Oxford High School employees disqualifies them from being protected by governmental immunity.

He said the school suicide prevention program, obtained by his office, spelled out an official response required but ignored prior to the shooting.

“They gave him the backpack without searching, with the gun, ammunition and manifesto,” he said.

At the press conference, Johnson got specific about the second lawsuit, claiming school employees failed to follow mandatory state guidelines for calling 911 and Child Protective Services to report the accused shooter’s behavior.

He went on to say they failed to check the suspect’s property for weapons, and instead, sent him back to class after finding alarming notes depicting murder.

Oxford High School is shown in Oxford, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, where authorities say a student opened fire at the school. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

“By following the first step of this policy, that alone could could have prevented this mass murder,” Johnson said.

Justin’s parents, Jill Soave and Craig Shilling, acknowledged the loss of an incredibly young man. Their 17-year-old son was known for possessing wonderful qualities with a bright future ahead.

They also shared their frustration with the alleged lack of accountability on the part of the school district.

“Our son Justin was such a dynamic child. He was funny, handsome, smart, loving, classy and kind,” Soave said.

“You only wish they’ll have what you did when you graduated. Fun times with friends and parties, but he won’t get that,” Craig said.

This story was originally published May 23, 2022 by WXYZ in Detroit, an E.W. Scripps Company.