Where are Ethan Crumbley’s parents? Were red flags ignored before Oxford High School shooting?

James, Jennifer Crumbley facing involuntary manslaughter charges

The parents of the suspected Oxford High School shooter are returning to the area to be arraigned on the involuntary manslaughter charges that were issued against them on Friday, according to their lawyer.

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich.U.S. Marshals have joined the search Friday for the parents who are charged in connection with the deadly attack on Oxford High School that their 15-year-old son is accused of committing.

James Robert Crumbley and Jennifer Lynn Crumbley are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter after police say their son, Ethan Crumbley killed four students Tuesday (Nov. 30) at Oxford High School in Michigan.

UPDATE: Parents of suspected Oxford High School shooter in custody after manhunt on Detroit’s east side, sources say

Ethan Crumbley was arraigned on Wednesday on charges that include murder and terrorism. He is being held at the Oakland County Jail after his bond was denied. His parents were charged on Friday and were set to be arraigned Friday but police were unable to locate them. A “be on the lookout” alert was sent out at 3 p.m. Friday, and their lawyer released a statement shortly after.

“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.”

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 is working with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office on the search.

Read: US Marshals join search for parents of teen charged in Oxford High School shooting

Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said if the parents have not turned themselves in yet -- then that means they are wanted by police.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald is very upset that the couple hasn’t been arraigned yet. She said it was not a hard decision to make 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.

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. Officials said the weapon was stored in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom at their Oxford Village home.

Officials said Ethan Crumbley’s parents were aware of “disturbing” behavior. McDonald said an Oxford High School teacher saw 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 his mother. School officials said they did not receive a response from either of his parents regarding the incident.

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.”

Read more here: Involuntary manslaughter charges filed against parents of Oxford High School shooting suspect

Prosecutor, superintendent differ in portrayals of red flags prior to shooting

Two very different portrayals have emerged about the suspected shooter's behavior in the days and hours leading up to the shooting.

Two very different portrayals have emerged about Ethan Crumbley’s behaviors in the days and hours leading up to the shooting at Oxford High School.

What McDonald has said differs greatly from what Oxford schools Superintendent Tim Throne said in a statement late Thursday night.

In a video, Throne stood by the school’s decision not to contact police.

“There are no discipline records at the high school,” Throne said. “Yes, this student did have contact with our front office, and yes, his parents were on campus Nov. 30. Again, I will take any and all questions at a later time, but that’s not now and this is as much information as we can give you today.”

Throne’s comments were made after Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced that police were unaware of the Monday and Tuesday morning incidents until after the shooting.

The morning of the shooting, officials reported that a teacher discovered a note with drawings and messages on Ethan Crumbley’s desk. She took a picture on her cellphone. Prosecutors said the note included the following:

  • 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.”

“If they say he had no discipline records, I don’t dispute that,” McDonald said. “I don’t know for certain, but I don’t know -- we’re not talking about disciplining the shooter. We’re talking about what was known or was there reason to believe or anything of concern regarding a violent act.”

Could school officials face charges in connection with the shooting? The investigation is ongoing.

“You err on the safe side. If you’re saying to a parent that we’re so concerned that he needs counseling and we have two back-to-back behaviors that indicate violence. Sending him back to class? I mean, I just know I think the parents were in the position to know that he had access to a deadly weapon. I am struggling with the statements from the superintendent,” McDonald said.



About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.