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Thursday, April 11, 2024 | Back issues
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Parents of Michigan shooting suspect charged with involuntary manslaughter

Prosecutors say the father and mother of the accused shooter were aware of his increasingly strange behavior but refused to act or even lock up their guns.

OXFORD, Mich. (CN) — The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old sophomore who police say killed four in a high school shooting spree on Tuesday, will face criminal charges for their role in the deadliest school shooting since 2018.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald announced in a press conference Friday that James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley of Oxford, Michigan, will each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting at Oxford High School.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to the events on Nov. 30,” she said.

McDonald said James Crumbley purchased the gun at ACME Shooting Goods in Oxford on Nov. 3 and Ethan was with him.

Ethan later posted a picture of the gun on social media with a caption that read “just got my new beauty today” surrounded by emoji hearts, according to prosecutors.  

Jennifer allegedly posted about the purchase on social media the next day when they tried the firearm out.

“Mom and son day, testing out his new Christmas present,” she wrote, according to McDonald.

Days before the purchase, McDonald said another teacher reported Ethan when she caught him searching for ammo on his phone on Nov. 21.

School officials were ignored when they attempted to contact James and Jennifer, according to prosecutors, but Jennifer texted Ethan to playfully scold him.

“Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” she allegedly wrote.

On the morning of Nov. 30, another teacher reportedly became aware of disturbing drawings made by Ethan of a gun and of bullets hitting people. One of the captions read “blood everywhere.” McDonald said he later altered the drawings to cover up the violence.

When the parents were called into the school to discuss the situation, McDonald said neither asked Ethan if he had his gun with him or where it was located, and did not bother to check his backpack. The parents refused to take Ethan out of the school and went home after the meeting.

When news of the shooting became public, McDonald said Jennifer reached out to her son via text.

“Ethan. Don’t do it,” she wrote.

James called 911 minutes after to report the unsecured gun was missing from the home.

McDonald stressed that the charges against the parents were intended to send a message and that the evidence against them was so egregious she had to act.

“I think it’s criminal,” she said of their behavior.

McDonald announced Wednesday that Ethan would be charged as an adult with terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Three students were pronounced dead the day of the shooting and a fourth victim succumbed to his injuries the next morning. Eight others were injured, including a teacher. The weapon used was a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol, according to Oakland County Sherriff Michael Bouchard. The suspect had at least two 15-round magazines, including one with seven remaining rounds. When sheriffs deputies apprehended him, he was walking down the hall with the loaded weapon in hand but put his hands up and surrendered when prompted.

Oxford, population 3,586, is in central Oakland County, about 40 miles north of Detroit.

The three students killed Tuesday were identified as Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17. Myre, a member of the school’s football team, died in route to a hospital as he was transported in a sheriff’s patrol car. The fourth student, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac on Wednesday morning, police said.

Among the victims who survived were a 15-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the head, a 17-year-old girl who was shot in the chest, a 14-year-old boy who suffered gunshot wounds to the jaw and hand, a 17-year-old girl who was shot in the neck, a 15-year-old boy who was hit in the leg and a 17-year-old boy who was shot in the hip.

A 47-year-old teacher was released from the hospital when she was treated for minor injuries on her shoulder from a bullet grazing her.

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter noted at a Tuesday night press conference it is not just the gunshot victims who are hurting.

"Everybody in the Oxford community, in Oakland County, and frankly, the United States, has been impacted by this tragedy,” he said.

Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin also spoke at the press conference and acknowledged the gravity of the day’s events.

“Obviously a deeply dark day in Michigan’s history. The trend we have seen all over the country has come to us," Slotkin said.

She added, “If you want to take anything from today’s events, I will just say the law enforcement and first responders, this is not every county that can do what happened today. As someone who worked at the Pentagon and the CIA and served in Iraq, this is not every community that can do this. The training that went on within that school absolutely I believe saved lives.”

tweet posted Tuesday afternoon from a HuffPost editor and Detroit native showed a terrifying scene in a classroom as students debated whether a voice on the other side of a barricaded door was a sheriff's deputy. The voice reportedly belonged to the gunman.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer released a statement that praised the reaction of responders and said flags would be lowered statewide in honor of the victims. 

"The death of multiple students and the shooting of many others, including a teacher, is horrific,” the Democratic governor said. “This is a time for us to come together and help our children feel safe at school.”

Categories / Criminal, Regional

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