Parents of Accused Michigan High School Shooter Arrested in Detroit After Manhunt

·4 min read
slack-imgs - Credit: Oakland County Sheriff's Office
slack-imgs - Credit: Oakland County Sheriff's Office

The parents of the accused Michigan high school shooter were arrested early Saturday morning after an hours-long manhunt that followed the couple being charged with involuntary manslaughter for their son’s shooting rampage.

James and Jennifer Crumbley — the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, accused of killing four students at Oxford High School on Nov. 30 with a handgun his father purchased just four days earlier — were apprehended by authorities in a commercial building in Detroit, hours after they failed to show up as promised for their arraignment on four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

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Following Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald’s announcement Friday that the Crumbleys would face charges, the U.S. Marshals office announced that the pair were on the run, offering $10,000 each for information leading to their arrest. The U.S. Marshals also revealed that the pair had withdrawn $4,000 from an ATM and had turned off their cell phones following McDonald’s press conference. “The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges. They cannot run from their part in this tragedy,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Friday afternoon.

Following a tip to police, the Crumbleys’ Kia Seltos SUV was located near the Detroit commercial building where the couple were allegedly hiding, roughly 40 miles away from Oxford, Michigan, the Detroit News reports. The couple was ultimately taken into custody without incident, though they were “very distressed as they walked out” of the building, Detroit Police Chief James White said during a Saturday morning press conference.

James Crumbley was booked into Oakland County Jail — the same jail where his son Ethan is currently housed — at 2:45 a.m. while Jennifer Crumbley was admitted into the Oakland County Jail annex, the sheriff’s department confirmed. As of press time Saturday morning, both Crumbleys remained behind bars pending their bond hearing. At their arraignment hearing Saturday morning, James and Jennifer Crumbley both pleaded not guilty to the charges of involuntary manslaughter, CNN reported.

McDonald opted to take the rare and unprecedented step of charging the parents of a school shooter for involuntary manslaughter following evidence that emerged in the days after Ethan’s arrest.

According to prosecutors, school officials twice spoke to Ethan about his alleged threats against classmates in the day before and day of the shooting. Details of those meetings were revealed at Friday, the New York Times reported: A day before the shootings, a teacher witnessed Crumbley doing an internet search for ammunition for the gun in the classroom.

When Jennifer Crumbley was notified by the school about the incident, she texted Ethan, “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” Four days before the shooting, James took Ethan to buy the Sig Sauer handgun on Black Friday, with Ethan posting photos of “my beauty” on social media soon after.

Crumbley’s parents also met with school officials just hours prior to the shooting after another teacher found a drawing Ethan made with images of a gun and a person shot dead along with the writing, “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

At the meeting hours before the shooting, Crumbley’s parents were told by school officials that their son required counseling with 48 hours, but Ethan was allowed to remain at school after his parents “resisted” the idea of removing him that day. No one inquired whether or not Ethan had already obtained his father’s firearm, which James allegedly later admitted was left in an unlocked box in his bedroom.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to the events of Nov. 30, and it’s my intention to hold them accountable as well,” McDonald said Friday. “Gun ownership is a right. And with that right comes great responsibility.”

Ethan Crumbley, who prosecutors said will be tried as an adult, currently faces 24 felony counts, including four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and one count of terrorism. The high school sophomore pleaded not guilty to all charges through his lawyer; if convicted, Ethan faces life in prison.

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