The parents of the 15-year-old charged in the Oxford High School shooting have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, both face four counts of involuntary manslaughter, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced on Friday. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.
“All I can say at this point is those actions on mom and dad’s behalf go far beyond negligence,” McDonald said Thursday ahead of the charges.
Investigators said James Crumbley purchased the semi-automatic gun last week and gave it to his son.
“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” McDonald said on Thursday, ahead of the charges. She noted the gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”
Behind the charges
At a news conference on Friday, McDonald announced the charges against the parents and revealed the details that led to them.
“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,” McDonald said. “It’s imperative we prevent this from happening again. No other parent or community should have to live through this nightmare.”
McDonald said that Crumbley’s parents were summoned to the school after a teacher found — and took a photo of — a drawing of a semi-automatic gun pointing at the words “the thoughts won’t stop, help me.” In another section of the paper was a drawing of a bullet below the words “blood everywhere.”
The paper also included a picture of a bleeding person who’d been shot twice. “Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji,” the prosecutor said.
Crumbley’s parents were immediately summoned to the school, and a school counselor removed the shooter from his classroom, bringing him to the office with his backpack.
“The counselor had obtained the drawing, but the shooter had already altered it,” McDonald said. The shooter had “scratched out” the bullet, gun, and troubling words.
The parents were shown the drawing and advised they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours.
McDonald said the parents “failed to ask their son if he 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.” And they also “resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time.”
Ethan Crumbley was returned to the classroom and later emerged from a bathroom, firing a gun at students.
McDonald said Jennifer Crumbley sent a text to her son after the news of an active shooter at Oxford High School became public. The text said, “Ethan, don’t do it.”
Fifteen minutes later, James Crumbley called 911 to report that a gun was missing from his home, and he believed his son might be the active shooter. The prosecutor said, “the SIG Sauer 9mm handgun purchased by James Crumbley was stored unlocked in a draw in James and Jennifer’s bedroom.”
“I want to be really clear that 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,” McDonald said.