Police: Oxford High School shooting suspect looked up ammo in class; mother told him not to get caught

Officials say mother texted son, ‘LOL I’m not mad. You have to learn not to get caught.’

Ethan Robert Crumbley (WDIV)

OXFORD, Mich. – The teenager charged in the Oxford High School shooting was caught by a teacher looking up ammunition during class the day before, and when his mother was told, she texted him not to get caught, according to authorities.

Friday in court, Tim Willis, a lieutenant with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, provided more details about the days leading up to the shooting.

Gun purchase

He said Ethan Crumbley, 15, went with his father, James Crumbley, on Nov. 26 to purchase a 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun. Later that day, Ethan Crumbley posted photos of the gun on social media with the caption, “Just got my new beauty today,” police said.

On Nov. 27, his mother, Jennifer Crumbley, posted on social media, “Mom and son day, testing out his new X-mas present,” according to authorities.

Teacher sees student looking up ammunition

The day before the shooting -- Monday, Nov. 29 -- a teacher at Oxford High School saw something that caused some concern, according to Willis.

“On 11/29/21, a teacher at Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class and reported seeing it to school officials,” Willis said in court. “Jennifer Crumbley was contacted via voicemail by school personnel regarding their son’s inappropriate internet search.

“School personnel indicated they followed that voicemail up with an email, but received no response from either parent.

“Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son, where she stated, ‘LOL I’m not mad. You have to learn not to get caught.’”

Meeting over disturbing drawing

On Wednesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard revealed school officials had met with both parents Tuesday morning -- just hours before the shooting.

“We have since learned that the schools did have contact with the student the day before and the day of the shooting for behavior in the classroom that they felt was concerning,” Bouchard said. “In fact, the parents were brought in the morning of the shooting and had a face-to-face meeting with the school.”

Willis provided more context about that meeting Friday in court:

“The morning of the shooting, Ethan Crumbley’s teacher came upon a note on Ethan’s desk, which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her phone,” Willis said. “The note contained the following: a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointed at the words, ‘The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.’ In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet: ‘Blood everywhere.’ Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is the drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is the drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, ‘My life is useless,’ and to the right of those words are, ‘The world is dead.’”

School officials said this drawing prompted the 10 a.m. meeting with both parents. A school counselor went to the classroom, removed Ethan Crumbley and brought him into the office with his backpack, according to police.

“The counselor obtained the drawing, but Ethan had altered it,” Willis said. “The drawings of the gun and the bloody figure were scratched out, along with the words, ‘Help me,’ and, ‘My life is useless,’ ‘The world is dead,’ and, ‘Blood everywhere.’ They were all scratched out.”

At the meeting, the parents were shown the drawing and told that both were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours, according to Willis.

“Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask Ethan if he had his gun with him, or where his gun was located, and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun,” he said.

Officials said the parents “resisted the idea of Ethan leaving the school at that time.” They left the building without their son, authorities said.

On Friday, a prosecutor issued four charges of involuntary manslaughter against both parents.

Shooting, aftermath

Willis said that when news of the active shooter at Oxford High School became public, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son at 1:22 p.m., “Ethan, don’t do it.”

At 1:37 p.m., James Crumbley called 911 to report that a gun was missing from his house and he believed his son might be the shooter, according to authorities.

“Further investigation revealed that the Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun purchased by James Crumbley was stored, unlocked in a drawer in James and Jennifer’s bedroom,” Willis said. “The gun recovered from Ethan Crumbley after the shooting was the same gun that was purchased by James Crumbley on 11/26/21 in the presence of Ethan.”

The shooting left four students dead and seven people injured, officials said. Ethan Crumbley is facing four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being charged as an adult.

He is being held without bond at the Oakland County Jail. On Friday, police were given a warrant to take his parents into custody on the involuntary manslaughter charges.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.