Parents of 15-year-old Oxford shooter suspect charged after ignoring son's disturbing behavior

Dec 3, 2021 at 12:38 pm
Oxford shooter Ethan Crumbley's father James, right, and Jennifer. - James Crumbley / Facebook
James Crumbley / Facebook
Oxford shooter Ethan Crumbley's father James, right, and Jennifer.

The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old accused of firing a gun at Oxford High on Tuesday, have been charged for their role in the deadly school shooting that killed at least four and injured seven.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of homicide involuntary manslaughter after ignoring the school's concerns over their son's disturbing behavior, which included violent drawings and cries for help.

Officials announced the charges on Friday.

Ethan Crumbley was arraigned on Wednesday for charges including terrorism causing death, first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

At the time, McDonald said she was charging the 15-year-old as an adult due to the seriousness of the crimes, and added that charges could come for Ethan's parents.

On Friday, officials said that James had purchased the gun used by Ethan, a Sig Sauer Model SP 2022 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, only days before the shooting, on Black Friday. Police said he also purchased three fifteen-round magazines for the pistol.

Officials said Ethan was present with his father when he purchased the gun. On social media, he later posted a photo of the weapon with the caption, "Just got my new beauty today 😍."

Jennifer posted a message on social media about a trip to a shooting range, with the caption, "Mom and son day, testing out his new Xmas present."

Later, a teacher contacted Ethan's parents after seeing him use his phone to search the internet for ammunition, officials said. According to officials, neither parent responded to the school's voicemail messages.

But they appeared to have received them. Jennifer later texted Ethan, saying, "LOL I'm not mad, you have to learn not to get caught," officials said.

On Nov. 30, the morning of the shooting, officials said a teacher saw a drawing Ethan made of a handgun along with the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me."

Another drawing featured a bullet and the message "blood everywhere," as well as a bleeding figure and a laughing emoji, and other messages that read, "My life is useless" and "the world is dead."

The day of the shooting, officials said Ethan Crumbley and his parents were summoned to the school to discuss his "concerning behavior." The parents were shown the drawings and told to get their child into counseling within 48 hours.

According to officials, the child reportedly had his backpack during the meeting, which may have contained the gun.

The parents decided not to pull their son out of school that day, officials said. Hours after his parents left the school, the teenager opened fire in the hallway.

When news of the shooting broke, Jennifer texted her son, "Ethan don't do it," according to officials, while James called 911 and said a gun was missing from his house and that his son may be the shooter.

In November 2016, Jennifer Crumbley wrote a now-deleted open letter to then-President-elect Donald Trump on her blog, praising him for his views on guns.

"As a female and a realtor, thank you for allowing my right to bear arms," she wrote. "Allowing me to be protected if I show a home to someone with bad intentions. Thank you for respecting that Amendment."

"My wife can be spot on," James wrote on Facebook, sharing the link to the blog. "Sometimes."

Jennifer also alluded to Ethan's struggles at school.

"I can't afford a Tutor, in fact, I sacrifice car insurance to make sure my son gets a good education and hopefully succeeds in life," she wrote.

While experts say it's rare for parents to be charged in school shootings, parents in Michigan have been charged in cases where minors had access to weapons and caused harm.

McDonald said she was issuing the charges to send a message.

"To prevent further tragedies like the one we witnessed yesterday, and at large, we have got to address responsible gun ownership in this country and in Oakland County," McDonald said Wednesday. "Responsible gun ownership, including the security of a gun, is an absolute imperative to protect our community today and in the future, and those who do not do that should be and will be held accountable. Kids deserve better. Parents deserve better. Teachers deserve better. We have to do better."

Michigan doesn't have laws requiring gun owners to secure their weapons around children, though 23 other states and Washington, D.C., do have such laws.

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