Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of the 15-year-old who is accused of murdering four students at a high school in Michigan, have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each.
Officials stated Friday that James Crumbley purchased the 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol used in Tuesday’s shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, a tiny city north of Detroit, on Black Friday from a local gun shop. They said that Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old, was with him at the time of the purchase.
According to Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald, Jennifer Crumbley referred to the handgun as their son’s “new Christmas present” in a social media post. She went on to say that the gun was kept in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom.
Mcdonald said, “These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable, and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences.”
According to the prosecutor, an Oxford High School teacher had just reported Ethan Crumbley after they noticed him using his phone searching for ammunition.
Jennifer Crumbley did not respond to a call voicemail and an email sent by school administrators, according to McDonald. Crumbley, however, did write a text message to her son saying, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
According to the prosecutor, Crumbley’s teacher discovered a drawing on Ethan’s desk the morning of the shooting, depicting a firearm, a bullet, and a gunshot victim, along with the words “the thoughts won’t stop, help me.”
The teacher reported her concerns to school authorities, who summoned James and Jennifer Crumbley to the school, where they were told that they would be expected to seek counseling for their son.
“Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask if their son had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him,” McDonald stated.
According to McDonald, Ethan’s parents “resisted the idea” of him leaving school at that time. Crumbley then returned to his classroom. According to the prosecutor, he entered a bathroom while wearing a backpack, then came out with the pistol in his hand and began shooting.
“When the news of the active shooter at Oxford High School had been made public, Jennifer Crumbley texted to her son at 1:22 p.m., ‘Ethan, don’t do it,’” McDonald said. James Crumbley contacted 911 fifteen minutes later to report that the gun had gone missing and that his son might have carried out the school massacre.
“I have tremendous compassion and empathy for parents who have children who are struggling and at risk for whatever reason,” McDonald said. “But the facts of this are so egregious.”
She failed to elaborate on why Ethan Crumbley was allowed to return to school by school officials, only saying, “the investigation is ongoing.”
Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, were the children who were killed. Authorities did not feel that any individual students were being targeted.
Six other pupils and a 47-year-old teacher were also injured, according to investigators.
“Gun ownership is a fundamental right. And with that right comes great responsibility”, McDonald said.
Ethan Crumbley is currently charged with 24 felony counts, including four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and one act of terrorism. If convicted, he will be tried as an adult and could face life in prison.
The decision by prosecutors to accuse the younger Crumbley of terrorism is unique in Michigan. Crumbley is accused of “intending to intimidate or coerce” the high school community, according to the criminal complaint.
“What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now, who can’t eat and can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they could ever step foot back in that school? Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community,” McDonald said at a press conference Wednesday. “The charge of terrorism reflects that.”
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