The parents of a teenager accused of killing four students in a high school shooting in Michigan were arrested early Saturday morning, hours after a prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges against him.
Parents of teenager accused of killing four students in Michigan high school shooting arrested
James and Jennifer Crumbley were captured in Detroit, Oakland County Deputy Police Chief Michael McCabe said in a statement. A vehicle linked to the couple had been located by a Detroit business owner Friday night.
They were found shortly afterward, and were expected to be booked into the county jail.
A prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents and alleged that they failed to intervene on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a drawing and a chilling message – “Blood everywhere” – found on the minor’s desk.
The Crumbleys committed “heinous” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to their son, Ethan Crumbley, to resisting removing him from school when they were summoned hours before the shooting, said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.
“I hope the parents and everyone will have humanity and step in and stop a potential tragedy,” she added. “The conclusion I draw is that there was absolute reason to believe this individual was dangerous and disturbed.”
Authorities said mid-afternoon that they were searching for the couple. Police Chief Mike Bouchard said the Crumbleys’ attorney, Shannon Smith, had agreed to handle their arrest if charges were filed, but had been unable to reach them.
Smith assured, however, that the Crumbleys were not on the run and had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety.”
“They will return to the area for prosecution,” Smith asserted to The Associated Press.
Then on Friday night, federal marshals announced a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the couple’s arrest.
According to McCabe, the tipster in Detroit spotted the car and called 911. A woman nearby escaped when the citizen called authorities, he added.
Earlier, the prosecutor had given the most accurate account to date of what happened before the shooting, three days after four students were killed and others wounded at Oxford High School about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Detroit.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, emerged from a restroom at the center with a gun with which he shot students in the hallway, investigators said. He is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes.
Under Michigan law, the charge of involuntary manslaughter can be brought against parents if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation in which there was a high probability of harm or death.
In the United States, parents are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children, even when most minors have obtained guns in the home of a parent or other relative, experts said.
School officials became concerned about the younger Crumbley on Monday, a day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him using his cell phone to search for ammunition, prosecutor McDonald said.
The school contacted Jennifer Crumbley, who subsequently wrote her son a text message that read, “I’m not mad at you. You need to learn not to get caught,” according to the prosecutor.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan’s desk and took a picture of it. It was a drawing of a gun pointed at the words, “Thoughts don’t stop. Help me,” McDonald said.
There was also a drawing of a bullet, he added, with the phrase “Blood everywhere” at the top.
Between the gun and the bullet was a person who appeared to have been shot twice and was bleeding. He also wrote the phrases “My life is useless” and “The world is dead,” according to the prosecutor.
McDonald stressed that the school quickly arranged a meeting with Ethan and his parents, who were told to take him to counseling within 48 hours.
The prosecutor noted that the Crumbleys did not ask the teen questions about the gun or check his backpack, and “resisted the idea of their son leaving school at that time.” The teen returned to class and later perpetrated the shooting.
“The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their child had access to a deadly weapon that was given to them is unconscionable, it’s criminal,” the prosecutor stated.
Jennifer Crumbley sent a text message to her son after the shooting that read “Ethan, don’t do this,” McDonald added.