Parents of Oxford school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley charged with involuntary manslaughter


Ethan Crumbley’s parents were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter Friday in connection to the Michigan school shooting allegedly carried out by their 15-year-old son.

The charges for James and Jennifer Crumbley stem from having purchased a gun for the teen in the days ahead of the deadly shooting and failing to take action when alerted to their child’s concerning behavior.

When news of the shooting broke, Jennifer immediately texted her son, saying, “Ethan, don’t do it,” and James rushed home to check his guns, proving they had a feeling that their son might be responsible, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said.

“I want to be really clear that these charges are meant to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility,” McDonald said at a Friday presser. “When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences.”

She also laid out how the school made mistakes that helped contribute to the killing, including knowing that he was drawing pictures of a gun with the words “the thoughts won’t stop, help me” and then failing to tell law enforcement and letting him back into class.  

McDonald spoke to the fury directed at the school from law enforcement and parents for letting Crumbley return to class.

mass shootings, michigan, murders, parents, school shootings, weapons

Jennifer and James Crumbley are considered culpable for allowing a gun to get into the hands of their son.

WDIV

“I’d be angry too, and I am,” she said. “I am angry. I’m angry as a mother. I’m angry as the prosecutor. I’m angry as a person that lives in this county. I’m angry. There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent.”

Ethan Crumbley is already being held without bail on murder and terrorism charges over Tuesday’s Oxford High School rampage that left four dead and seven injured in the deadliest US school shooting of the year.

Officials had hinted for days that the parents — who told their son not to talk to investigators — could face charges, and new details reveal a series of red flags to which the parents allegedly failed to respond.

The dad had bought the semi-automatic 9mm Sig Sauer handgun that his son allegedly used just four days earlier, on Black Friday, officials previously revealed.

mass shootings, michigan, murders, parents, school shootings, weapons

Ethan has already been locked up and slapped with a slew of charges.

Oakland County Sheriff's Office via AP

The second-year student then posed with it on social media, which suggested it was “freely available” in the family home before the slaughter, McDonald previously said. What’s more, his mother posted a picture online about using the gun, saying “mom and son day testing out his new xmas present.”

McDonald said Friday that the parents were called in after a teacher saw disturbing drawings on Crumbley’s desk. The drawings included a picture of a semi-automatic handgun pointed at the words “the thoughts won’t stop, help me” and “blood everywhere,” along with a picture of someone shot and bleeding. The drawing also contained the lines “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.”

When the parents met with their son and a school counselor, they did not inspect his backpack or ask him about the gun, according to the prosecutor. By the time the meeting took place, Crumbley had altered the drawing to make it less disturbing, but his frightened teacher had apparently already snapped a picture of the original version.

mass shootings, michigan, murders, parents, school shootings, weapons

The teen posted with the gun on social media, which suggested it was “freely available” in the family home.

Instagram

McDonald also said the parents declined to take Ethan home after the meeting, which she said was a mistake, insisting he should not have been allowed to re-enter the classroom.

“Any individual who had the opportunity to stop this tragedy should have done so. The question is what did they know and when did they know it,” McDonald said. “The notion that a parent could read those words and also have access to a deadly weapon that they gave him … it is criminal.” 

The prosecutor added she doesn’t think the charges are a “unique or unusual” interpretation of the law, citing a moment when Ethan Crumbley got in trouble at school and his mother responded via text: “…you have to learn not to get caught.” 

mass shootings, michigan, murders, parents, school shootings, weapons

A flag flies at half-staff Thursday in Centennial Park in honor of the students and staff killed and wounded in the November 30 shooting at Oxford High School.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

McDonald, a Democrat, also took aim at Michigan’s gun laws, which she characterized as “woefully inadequate,” criticizing the state’s lack of a safe-storage law for guns and that children are allowed to go to shooting ranges as long as their parent is present. 

Sheriff Michael Bouchard also stressed to NBC News that it is “illegal for someone” at age 15 to “possess or carry a handgun.”

“So if they participated in that, that’s clearly a crime,” he stressed.

The accused mass shooter — who is charged as an adult — on Wednesday was ordered held without bond at the Oakland County Jail.

In addition to four counts of first-degree murder, he faces one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

He had recorded videos the night before detailing his plans, and also wrote in a journal about “his desire to shoot up the school to include murdering students,” Lt. Tim Willis of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office told the arraignment.

McDonald said the attack was “absolutely premeditated.”

“I am absolutely sure after reviewing evidence that it isn’t even a close call,” she said.

Assistant prosecutor Marc Keast told the court that Crumbley “deliberately brought the handgun that day with the intent to murder as many students as he could.”

He was found with an additional 18 rounds of ammunition when he was arrested, the court was told.

Three students hit by gunfire — Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17 — died on Tuesday. The fourth, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died from his injuries the next day, officials have said.

Officials have said Crumbley did not appear to have specific targets or a clear motive, knocking back earlier claims that he was being bullied.

It was the deadliest school shooting since 2018 when 10 were killed in a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, according to the Associated Press/USA Today/Northeastern University Mass Killings database. The US has had 31 mass killings this year, of which 28 involved firearms.

With Post wires

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