Oxford shooting: Here’s what charges, potential sentences suspect’s parents are facing

Parents of suspected Oxford High School shooter face involuntary manslaughter charges

James, left, and Jennifer Crumbley are shown during the video arraignment of their son, Ethan Crumbley in Rochester Hills, Mich., on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges Friday, Dec. 3, 20201 against the Crumbleys whose 15-year-old son is accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school. (AP) (Uncredited, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Parents of the teenager accused of opening fire at Oxford High School and killing four students have been arraigned on involuntary manslaughter charges for their alleged role in the mass shooting.

Jennifer Crumbley, 43, and James Crumbley, 45, are accused of contributing to the shooting that police say was carried out by their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, on Nov. 30 at the high school in Oxford, Michigan. Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult in the shooting that killed four teenagers and wounded seven other people, including a teacher.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced Friday that the parents would also be charged in connection with the shooting in an effort to serve justice while also making an example of the importance of responsible gun ownership.

Jennifer and James Crumbley were arraigned Saturday morning on four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

Each of the parents are facing the following four charges:

  • Count 1: Involuntary manslaughter, maximum $7,500 fine and 15 years in prison for the death of 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin
  • Count 2: Involuntary manslaughter, maximum $7,500 fine and 15 years in prison for the death of 16-year-old Tate Myre
  • Count 3: Involuntary manslaughter, maximum $7,500 fine and 15 years in prison for the death of 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana
  • Count 4: Involuntary manslaughter, maximum $7,500 fine and 15 years in prison for the death of 17-year-old Justin Shilling

You can watch the entire arraignment here.

In total, Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley each face a maximum prison sentence of 60 years and maximum fines of $30,000 if convicted on all four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Both Jennifer and James Crumbley pleaded not guilty to all four charges brought against them.

The couple are each being held on a $500,000 bond and are being housed at the Oakland County Jail. If they post bail, they will be required to wear GPS tethers, turn over all of their firearms to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to complying with several other stipulations.

Prosecutors share evidence of Crumbley parents’ involvement

Here’s more evidence provided by the prosecutor’s office related to the parents’ alleged involvement in the Nov. 30 shooting.

Parent-weapon connection

Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore student, is accused of firing dozens of rounds from a 9 mm Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol that was recently purchased by his father, fatally striking four students and wounding six students a teacher.

Officials revealed Friday that James Crumbley purchased the weapon at a gun shop in Oxford on Nov. 26 -- four days before the shooting -- with his son Ethan Crumbley present. Ethan Crumbley later took to social media to post a photo of the pistol, writing “Just got my new beauty today,” including an emoji with hearts, prosecutors said.

Following that purchase, mother Jennifer Crumbley reportedly posted on social media, writing, “Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present.”

McDonald says the evidence indicates that the weapon purchased by James Crumbley was intended as a gift for Ethan Crumbley. In Michigan, you must be at least 18 years old to obtain a handgun license. Officials say the weapon was stored in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom at their home in Oxford Village.

McDonald said the teen’s access to the weapon goes beyond negligence. During a video message Thursday night, McDonald said, “It’s just not enough to charge this shooter,” implying at that time that charges were likely to be brought against at least one of Ethan Crumbley’s parents.

The reasoning behind the involuntary manslaughter charges goes beyond just the gun ownership, officials said Friday.

Prosecutor: Parents aware of ‘disturbing’ behavior

According to McDonald, a teacher at Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley looking up ammunition on his cell phone during class on Nov. 29. The teacher reported the incident to school officials, who reportedly reached out to Jennifer Crumbley by phone and email to alert the parents.

School personnel say they did not receive a response from either parent regarding the internet search. According to McDonald, Jennifer Crumbley sent a text to her son regarding the incident, writing “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

On the day of the shooting, Nov. 30, officials report that a teacher discovered a note with disturbing drawings and messages on Ethan Crumbley’s desk, prompting her to take a picture on her cell phone and alert school personnel. Prosecutors say the note contained the following items:

  • A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
  • A drawing of a bullet with “blood everywhere” written above the bullet.
  • A drawing of a person who appeared to have been shot twice and bleeding.
  • A drawing of a laughing emoji.
  • Writing that said, “My life is useless.”
  • Writing that said, “The world is dead.”

Parents meet with school personnel on day of shooting

James and Jennifer Crumbley were summoned to Oxford High School on the morning of the shooting to address the note found by the teacher. Ethan Crumbley and his parents together met with school personnel, where they were shown the note and were advised to take their son to counseling within 48 hours.

During the meeting, Prosecutor McDonald says that the parents both “failed to ask their son 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 -- which he had with him.”

Investigators previously said that the weapon was likely stored in Ethan Crumbley’s backpack on the day of the shooting, which was present during the Tuesday meeting.

Parents refuse to take Ethan Crumbley home after meeting

McDonald says parents James and Jennifer Crumbley did not want to take their son home with them following the meeting on Nov. 30. Instead, the couple left the school without him, and Ethan Crumbley was sent back to class.

According to prosecutors, Jennifer Crumbley sent a text message to her son after news of the school shooting became public, writing, “Ethan don’t do it.” Shortly after, at 1:37 p.m., James Crumbley called 911 and reported that a gun was missing from his house, and that he believed his son may be the shooter at Oxford High School.

McDonald said Friday that she did not intend to “chastise or attack” school personnel, but that Ethan Crumbley “should not have been allowed to go back to that class.”

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.