Oakland prosecutor weighs charging parents of accused Oxford High shooter

·3 min read

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she is considering bringing criminal charges against the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old Oxford High School sophomore accused of killing four classmates and wounding seven other people in a mass shooting Tuesday at the suburban Detroit school.

McDonald announced charges Wednesday against Crumbley, who was arraigned later in the day. He is charged with one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts possession of a firearm in commission of a felony. The teen will be tried as an adult, she said.

The prosecutors promised a decision on additional charges would be made swiftly.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announces charges against 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, charging him as an adult, on Dec. 1, 2021, from her office related to a mass shooting incident that took place at Oxford High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announces charges against 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, charging him as an adult, on Dec. 1, 2021, from her office related to a mass shooting incident that took place at Oxford High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.

"We know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors," McDonald said.

"We have to hold individuals accountable who don't do that."

More: Authorities: Oxford school shooting suspect talked in video about killing students before rampage

More: Oxford 15-year-old facing adult murder charges as 4th student dies in high school shooting

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said he supported McDonald's charges against the younger Crumbley. When asked about possible criminal conduct by the parents, he said that is something that must still be determined.

In this frame capture from the video feed, Scott Kozak, attorney for Ethan Crumbley participates in Crumbley's virtual arraignment on December 1, 2021.
In this frame capture from the video feed, Scott Kozak, attorney for Ethan Crumbley participates in Crumbley's virtual arraignment on December 1, 2021.

Crumbley and his parents have retained an attorney, Bouchard said. Attorney Scott Kozak, who represented Crumbley in court Wednesday but said he won’t be involved in the case moving forward, declined comment after the hearing.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told the Free Press on Wednesday state laws are opaque when it comes to holding an adult accountable for a minor using that adult's gun in the commission of a crime.

'Intent to kill': A visual timeline of deadly shooting at Oxford High School

While she believes the state Legislature needs to update the law, prosecutors in the past have used a range of charges against adults.

"We don't have specific laws on the books that speak to that, like they have in other states," Nessel said.

"Theoretically, if you had a case where you had a teenager who had demonstrated some sort of instability, mentally or suicidal or homicidal thoughts or actions, or anything to that extent, and in addition to that you still allowed this child to have unfettered access to a weapon, then theoretically I don't think it would be a huge stretch to charge the parents with involuntary manslaughter under those circumstances."

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announces charges against 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, charging him as an adult on Dec. 1, 2021 from her office related to a mass shooting incident that took place at Oxford High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announces charges against 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, charging him as an adult on Dec. 1, 2021 from her office related to a mass shooting incident that took place at Oxford High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.

She stressed that she's not saying this specifically applies to the Oxford High School case, but suggested it represents one possible charge.

More: Oxford High School shooting video 'absolutely cold-hearted,' sheriff says

More: Sheriff: Oxford High School shooting suspect used gun dad bought on Black Friday

On Tuesday, Bouchard confirmed the suspect used a 9mm Sig Sauger SP2022 handgun purchased by his father on Black Friday. Social media images appear to show the younger Crumbley had engaged in target practice with the gun before the shooting.

The Sig Sauer SP2022 series pistols are made out of polymers, as opposed to entirely out of steel or other metals, according to the company's website. This reduces the weight of the gun but not the power, according to the site.

"The SP2022 pistols have earned an enviable reputation and proven track record of reliable performance in the hands of military and law enforcement professionals around the world," according to the website.

In a 2017 YouTube video, a Sig Sauer employee describes the handgun as a "workhorse of a gun."

Bouchard said Crumbley fired at least 30 rounds, based on shell casings found at the school. Law enforcement recovered three, 15-round magazines at the school. When Crumbley surrendered to law enforcement he had seven rounds in his pocket with another 11 in the gun.

Staff writer Gina Kaufman contributed to this report.

Contact Dave Boucher: dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Oakland prosecutor weighs charging parents of accused Oxford shooter

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