The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the fifteen-year-old accused of killing four and injuring at least seven in a shooting at Oxford High School, were both charged on Friday with involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutor Karen McDonald filed four involuntary manslaughter charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley. McDonald stated that this charge was the most severe charge she believed could be proven against the parents.
She said these charges are warranted by the timeline of troubling signs that the high school sophomore’s parents failed to respond to appropriately.
Oakland County Lieutenant Tim Willis testified in court that James and Jennifer attended a parent-teacher conference with Ethan and school officials the morning of the shooting. The meeting was held regarding a note found on Ethan’s desk by a teacher earlier that day.
Ethan’s parents were shown the note, on which he had written the phrases, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” “my life is useless,” “the world is dead,” and “Blood everywhere,” with a drawing of a bullet and a person who appeared to be shot and bleeding.
Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley were advised to get their son into counseling within twenty-four hours. They declined to take their son home from school that day.
Ethan’s parents then left the school, and Ethan went to class. Hours later, Ethan is accused of walking out of a bathroom and shooting more than eleven students.
Investigators say actions by James and Jennifer during the shooting indicate they may have suspected their son was involved.
Thirty minutes after the first 911 call was placed, Willis said Jennifer texted her son, “Ethan don’t do it.”
Fifteen minutes later, Willis stated James went home to search for his Sig Sauer handgun and called 911 to report it missing. He told 911 on the call that he believed his son was the shooter at Oxford High School.
Willis also said Ethan had been caught in school searching online for ammunition on Monday, the day before the shooting. After learning this, Jennifer allegedly responded, “LOL, I’m not mad. You have to learn not to get caught.”
James and Jennifer Crumbley are expected to be formally arraigned for the four charges against them.
Prosecutor McDonald says the Crumbleys are culpable in the shooting because they allowed their son access to a handgun and ignored signs that he was on the brink of violence.
“These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable,” said McDonald.
Ethan Crumbley faces twenty-four felonies and will be tried as an adult. He faces life in prison if convicted. His parents now face up to fifteen years for each of their four counts of involuntary manslaughter.