Detroit police arrest parents of Oxford High School shooting suspect after tracking with K-9 units

Business owner spots suspects’ vehicle in his parking lot on Detroit’s east side

James and Jennifer Crumbley at their video arraignments on Dec. 4, 2021. (WDIV)

DETROIT – The parents of a teen accused of carrying out a mass shooting at Oxford High School became wanted fugitives Friday when police couldn’t find them to bring them in to face involuntary manslaughter charges.

James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of mass shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley, 15, finally were arrested early Saturday morning in Detroit. Police said a business owner called 911 to report the suspects’ vehicle -- a black 2021 Kia Seltos SUV with the Michigan license plate number DQG 5203 -- in his parking lot on Bellevue Street near Jefferson Avenue. Jennifer Crumbley was spotted near the vehicle by the business owner, police said.

Police said she fled the area on foot after the 911 call was made.

“After an extensive search by DPD including Detroit K-9 units both of the fugitives were located and arrested by DPD. The two will be transported to the Oakland County Jail tonight,” reads a statement from Detroit police. “Kudos to the Detroit Police Department for this great response and work. We wish to thank all of the agencies that assisted on scene including Border Patrol, MSP, U.S. Marshals and our own Fugitive Team.”

Arrested in building basement

The arrest was announced just before 2 a.m. Saturday. Police said the couple was found and apprehended in the basement of a building on Bellevue Street.

They are now at the Oakland County Jail.

Arraignment Saturday morning; not guilty pleas, $500K bond

The couple’s video arraignment in 52-3 District Court took place Saturday morning. They pleaded not guilty to all charges. A probable cause conference is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Both defendants cried as they listened to Judge Julie A. Nicholson read the charges and were asked if they understood the charges against them.

“I understand,” they repeated.

They are being held in jail on $500,000 bonds, no 10 percent. If bond is posted they are ordered to wear GPS tethers.

James and Jennifer Crumbley at their video arraignments on Dec. 4, 2021. (WDIV)

Their attorney’s, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, released the following statement Saturday morning just before the couple was arraigned on charges:

“We understand that our clients were apprehended last night although we fully intended to turn them in first thing this morning for arraignment, contrary to the misinformation that has been rampant in the media.

Unfortunately, this case presents the most unimaginable tragedy for every single person involved, including every member of the community. While it’s human nature to want to find someone to blame or something to point to or something that gives us answers, the charges in this case are intended to make an example and send a message. The prosecution has very much cherry- picked and slanted specific facts to further their narrative to do that.

We intend to fight this case in the courtroom and not in the court of public opinion. We know that in the end the entire story and truth will prevail.”

The attorneys asked for bond to be set at $50,000 or $100,000, arguing the couple are not flight risks and were “never” fleeing prosecution.

“Our clients are going to fight these charges. Our clients are just as devastated as everyone else,” said Smith during the bond portion of the hearing.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald asked for bond to be set at $500,000.

James Crumbley (left) and Jennifer Crumbley (right), parents of the suspected Oxford High School shooter, each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their role in the Nov. 30 shooting. Mugshots provided by officials. (WDIV)

Missing after charges issued

James Robert Crumbley and Jennifer Lynn Crumbley are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter after police and prosecutors said their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, killed four students Tuesday (Nov. 30) at the high school in Oxford, Michigan.

The teen was arraigned on a list of charges including several counts of murder and terrorism Wednesday. His bond was denied and he is being held at the Oakland County Jail.

Ethan Robert Crumbley (WDIV)

The adult Crumbleys were charged Friday and were set to be arraigned on the charges Friday evening. However, police were unable to locate them. A “be on the lookout” alert was sent to law enforcement about 3 p.m. Friday. About an hour later the couple’s attorneys, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, released a statement explaining their clients had left town, but planned to return:

“On Thursday night we contacted the Oakland County prosecutor to discuss this matter and to advise her that James and Jennifer Crumbley would be turning themselves in to be arraigned,” reads the statement from their attorneys. “Instead of communicating with us, the prosecutor held a press conference to announce charges. The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports.”

US Marshals join search

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the U.S. Marshals announced that they were joining the search for James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley. The USMS Detroit Fugitive Apprehension team was working with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office on the search.

“The attorney, this morning, told us if charges were issued, and at that point, they had not (been), that she would make arrangements to have them arrested,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

As police were searching for the Crumbleys after the charges were issued, Bouchard went on CNN to discuss the search.

“Given that their attorney said that they would handle this if charges were issued, and now they’re not responding to the attorney -- it certainly is indicative of their intent to flee, which is certainly something we plan to stop very short,” Bouchard said. “If (anyone in the public knows) where they are, or they see them, please call 911.”

By Friday night, there were rewards of up to $10,000 for tips leading to the arrest of the couple.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald was very upset Friday that the couple had not been arraigned yet. She said it was not a hard decision to charge the parents.

“Dad, you know, upon hearing there was an active shooter -- not going to the school like every other parent and wondering if their kid was OK. He drove to his house and looked to see if the gun was there. Which tells me he absolutely had reason to believe that his son might harm somebody,” McDonald said.

The weapon Ethan Crumbley is accused of using in the shooting was a 9mm pistol that his father had recently purchased. James Crumbley purchased the weapon at a gun shop in Oxford on Nov. 26, according to officials. His son was present. Ethan Crumbley went on social media to post a picture of the pistol, writing “Just got my new beauty today,” including an emoji with hearts, according to prosecutors.

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.