In a rare move, Oakland County prosecutor Karen D. McDonald on Friday filed involuntary manslaughter charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old arrested earlier this week by law enforcement officials who say he killed four classmates at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit, Michigan.
“I’m angry as a mother, I’m angry as a prosecutor, I’m angry as a person that lives in this county.”
The teenager is accused of fatally shooting four students and injuring several others on Tuesday with a semi-automatic 9-millimeter Sig Sauer handgun that his parents purchased for him as an early Christmas gift. That’s not the only disturbing detail that McDonald shared when making her case about the culpability of Crumbley’s parents, who are now fugitives being tracked down by F.B.I. agents and U.S. Marshals.
The New York Times reported:
The day after Thanksgiving, he and his father had gone together to a Michigan gun shop to buy it. He and his mother spent a day testing out the gun, which was stored unlocked in the parents’ bedroom. On Monday, when a teacher reported seeing their son searching online for ammunition, his mother did not seem alarmed.
“LOL I’m not mad at you,” Jennifer Crumbley texted her son. “You have to learn not to get caught.”
The next day, Ethan Crumbly was taken into custody and charged with terrorism and first-degree murder in the deaths of Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Justin Shilling, 17; and Hana St. Juliana, 14. Seven other students were wounded.
As the Times noted:
Ever since the 1999 attack at Columbine High School, the parents of children who commit school shootings have come under scrutiny over missed warning signs and whether they should bear some blame. But they are rarely held criminally responsible in the raw aftermath of a school shooting, even though many underage attackers arm themselves with guns from home.
But in an extraordinary news conference, Ms. McDonald recounted a nearly minute-by-minute litany of missed opportunities to intervene—including how the suspect’s parents had been alerted to a disturbing drawing he made containing violent images and a plea for help just hours before the shooting.
“I am in no way saying that an active shooter situation should always result in a criminal prosecution against parents, but the facts of this case are so egregious,” McDonald said Friday.
“I’m angry as a mother, I’m angry as a prosecutor, I’m angry as a person that lives in this county,” she added. “There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent.”
According to the Times:
On the morning of the Nov. 30 shooting, the suspect’s parents were urgently called to Oxford High School after one of his teachers found an alarming note he had drawn, scrawled with images of a gun, a person who had been shot, a laughing emoji and the words, “Blood everywhere,” and, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
School officials told the parents during the in-person meeting on Tuesday that they were required to seek counseling for their son, Ethan, Ms. McDonald said. The teenager’s parents did not want their son to be removed from school that day, and did not ask him whether he had the gun with him or search the backpack he brought with him to the office, Ms. McDonald said.
“The notion that a parent could read those words and also know their son had access to a deadly weapon, that they gave him, is unconscionable, and I think it’s criminal,” said McDonald. “It is criminal.”
Crumbley was permitted to return to class. Just hours later, his ominous messages were transformed into real-life violence.
According to prosecutors, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son at 1:22 pm with the words, “Ethan don’t do it.” But by then it was too late. Fifteen minutes later, James Crumbley called 911 to report a missing weapon and said that the shooter at Oxford High could be his son.
Now, authorities say the accused gunman’s parents are missing.
However, “two attorneys who say they are representing the couplereleased a statement that said the Crumbleys had left town for their safety and are returning for an arraignment,” CNN reported. Their arraignment had been scheduled for Friday at 4:00 pm ET.
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