Parents of teenage suspect in Michigan school shooting also charged

On Friday prosecutors charged both parents of Ethan Crumbley, age 15, with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, alongside the murder charges laid against their son.

Parents of teenage suspect in Michigan school shooting also charged in connection to the shooting
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the teenager accused of killing four students and wounding seven others at a high school in Michigan have been charged in connection to the shooting rampage.

The shooting suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, faces 24 charges in connection to the shooting, which occurred at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan this Tuesday. The charges he faces includes four counts of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism causing death. The suspect pled not guilty during his first court appearance on Wednesday.

On Friday, prosecutors charged both the Crumbley parents with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

"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 November 30 and it's my intention to hold them accountable as well," Karen McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor, said at a news conference where she announced the charges against the Crumbley parents.

During the press event, McDonald said that James Crumbley bought the 9mm Sig Sauer handgun that was used in the shooting on November 26, just days before the shooting. A store employee of Acme Shooting Goods in Oxford confirmed the purchase with law enforcement officers, informing them that James’ son Ethan was with him at the time of the purchase.

McDonald highlighted several social media posts from Jennifer Crumbley indicating that the gun was purchased for Ethan as a Christmas gift. The prosecutor also read a post from Ethan’s Instagram page, which included a picture of the firearm and the caption “Just got my new beauty today,” along with a heart emoji.

The prosecutor said that a day before the shooting, a teacher at Oxford High School reported Ethan for using his phone to search for ammunition online. Both James and Jennifer were notified via email and voicemail but did not respond to school officials, she said.

McDonald read the messages between the suspect and his mother, in which Jennifer said “LOL I’m not mad at you” after the teacher reported her son. “You have to learn not to get caught,” she said.

The prosecutor said school officials met with both parents on the morning of the shooting to discuss an “alarming” note with a drawing of a handgun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.” The drawing also included a figure of a shooting victim and a bullet with the words “blood everywhere.”

CBS reported:

That morning, the teen was removed from class and brought into the office with his backpack, McDonald said. James and Jennifer were told they were required to enter Ethan into counseling in the next 48 hours, she said.

The parents resisted the idea of making Ethan leave school and failed to ask him if he had the gun with him at school or to inspect his backpack, the prosecutor claimed. Ethan was eventually returned to class. 

After news of the shooting broke, Jennifer sent a message to Ethan at 1:22 pm, reading "Ethan. Don't do it," the prosecutor said. Almost 15 minutes later, James called 911 and reported a gun missing from his house, telling first responders he believed his son was the active shooter at the high school, according to McDonald. 

Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel said she agreed with the decision to charge the Crumbley parents for their involvement with the shooting, noting that their irresponsibility led to the mass shooting.

"I fully support Prosecutor McDonald's issuance of charges against Jennifer and James Crumbley. Demanding accountability of a child's parents under the circumstances presented is not just appropriate, it's crucial," she wrote. "My heart continues to go out to the families who lost their child in this unfathomable tragedy. We must not let this pass without properly addressing gun violence and responsible gun ownership."

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