On Tuesday, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and killed 4 fellow students and injured 6 more students and one teacher with his father’s handgun.
According to Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Ethan Crumbley used a handgun in the mass shooting that was purchased on Black Friday by his father James Crumbley. James and Ethan Crumbley are pictured together in the Facebook photo below. The photo was shared on Facebook on March 3, 2018.
Ethan posted photos of his father’s gun on social media only 4 days before the shooting. In his post, Ethan insinuates that the Sig Sauer 9mm (pictured below) belongs to him. “Just got my new beauty today,” he wrote.
On Wednesday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced the charges against Ethan Crumbley.”This was not just an impulsive act,” McDonald said, adding that the crime was planned “well before the incident.”
The 15-year-old will be tried as an adult and was charged with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to commit murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
“We’ve charged four counts of first-degree murder, which requires premeditation,” McDonald said. “And I am absolutely sure after reviewing the evidence that it wasn’t even a close call. It was absolutely premeditated.”
McDonald and Bouchard, speaking at a news conference Thursday, reiterated their commitment to strict enforcement of gun laws.
“Responsible gun owners have a right to possess a gun but with it comes responsibility,” McDonald said, “and making it accessible and not securing it and allowing it in the hands of somebody that show signs that they may hurt somebody is not okay.”
In Michigan, gun owners are not required to lock up their weapons or keep them away from children, according to Giffords Law Center.
Charging parents of juvenile shooters is uncommon, with just four reported instances in which the adult owners of the weapons were criminally punished because they failed to lock firearms fired by a child, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
The four known prosecutions of parents did not stem from charges related to negligent-storage laws. The harshest penalty among those cases was a sentence of more than two years in prison for a man charged with involuntary manslaughter after a 6-year-old boy found his gun in a shoebox and killed a classmate.
David Chipman, a veteran Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent once nominated to lead the agency, said if prosecutors find evidence the shooter’s parents acted unlawfully, the criminal justice system has a duty to act.
“As gun owners, we have a responsibility that when we acquire firearms we don’t put our neighbors, and in particular their children, at risk,” Chipman said. “If a parent provided their car to an unlicensed teen for a night of drunken joy riding, no one would be shocked if a prosecutor sought to hold the adults accountable.”
“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there were other individuals who contributed to the events,” McDonald said.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Crumbley’s parents were not cooperating with investigators.
What do you think? Should the parents be charged for their son’s crimes? Should they be held responsible for their son’s violent acts? What about shooting deaths in Chicago where minors use guns to kill others? When the guns don’t belong to them, are the rightful owners charged for not keeping their guns properly locked and stored away?
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