DETROIT – The parents of the suspected Oxford High School shooter are in police custody Saturday morning following a manhunt in Detroit, where police say they hid in a commercial building after apparently fleeing town.
James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested by Detroit police early Saturday morning and turned over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, who is investigating the Nov. 30 mass shooting at the high school in Oxford, Michigan. The couple’s son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of carrying out the shooting, fatally striking four fellow students and injuring six others and a teacher during school hours.
The parents’ arrest was announced just before 2 a.m. on Saturday. Shortly after, Detroit police Chief James White detailed the arrest operation during a news conference, saying a tip had led law enforcement to where the couple was hiding.
Search for parents in Detroit after charges issued
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald on Friday announced charges against the Crumbleys for their role in the school shooting. Their son was arraigned on a list of charges, including several counts of murder and terrorism, on Wednesday. The parents were set to be arraigned on Friday, but police were unable to locate them.
Shortly after police issued a “be on the lookout” alert for the Crumbleys, the couple’s attorneys -- Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman -- released a statement explaining their clients had left town, but planned to return.
According to police, a business owner spotted the couple’s vehicle -- a black 2021 Kia Seltos SUV with the Michigan license plate number DQG 5203 -- on Friday in his parking lot on Bellevue Street near Jefferson Avenue. Jennifer Crumbley was reportedly seen near the vehicle by the business owner, and is said to have fled the area on foot after the 911 call was made.
Chief White said Saturday morning that a tip led them to a warehouse where the couple was believed to be hiding. According to the chief, the tipster spotted the Crumbley’s vehicle outside the commercial building. There was also video footage of one of the fugitives entering the building, police said.
Detroit police arrived at the scene between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and set up a perimeter and conducted surveillance, White said. Police say they were confident that the fugitive couple was in the building.
It was not immediately clear how long the couple had been inside the building before law enforcement arrived.
Authorities say the department activated a special response team that was able to enter the building and remove and arrest James and Jennifer Crumbley without incident. They were reportedly hiding in one of the rooms inside the building.
According to Chief White, neither of the parents were armed when they were found by police. They did not resist arrest, but police say the couple was “very distressed” as they were walking out of the building.
When asked if the couple was fleeing or intended to return for their arraignment, Chief White said, “I don’t know, but this isn’t indicative of turning yourself in, hiding in a warehouse.”
You can watch Chief White’s entire news conference in the video player below.
Someone assisted fugitive parents
James and Jennifer Crumbley did not break into the commercial space, but rather were aided by someone who let them into the building, police said.
The investigation into who assisted the fugitive couple was “ongoing” and “very active” as of 3 a.m. Saturday, and White said the person could likely face charges -- in Wayne County and/or Oakland County.
The relationship between the Crumbleys and the person who helped them was not immediately clear.
Chief White did not say exactly where the warehouse was located, but said that “they do a lot of artwork in the building.” He said that police have been in contact with the building’s owner, but it was unclear if the person who helped the couple owns or leases the building involved.
As of 3 a.m. Saturday, no one was in police custody for aiding the Crumbleys, officials said.
Couple finally in custody
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 reportedly 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.
Detroit police say that U.S. Marshals and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office were on the scene during the arrest of James and Jennifer Crumbley. The couple was turned over to the sheriff’s office and placed in their custody, as it is their investigation, officials said.
James and Jennifer Crumbley have been jailed and are expected to be arraigned Saturday morning. They are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their role in the Oxford High School shooting.