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Bond set at $500,000 each for Michigan school shooting suspect’s parents after capture

Jennifer and James Crumbley, parents of a teen accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school, were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

A judge imposed a combined $1-million bond Saturday for the parents of the Michigan teen charged with killing four students at Oxford High School, hours after police said they were caught hiding in a Detroit commercial building.

James and Jennifer Crumbley entered not-guilty pleas to each of the four involuntary manslaughter counts against them during a hearing held on Zoom. Jennifer Crumbley sobbed and struggled to respond to the judge’s questions at times, and James Crumbley shook his head when a prosecutor said their son had full access to the gun used in the killings.

Judge Julie Nicholson assigned bonds of $500,000 apiece to the couple and required GPS monitoring if they pay to be released, agreeing with prosecutors that they pose a flight risk.

Defense attorneys for the Crumbleys continued to argue Saturday that the couple never intended to flee and had made plans to meet their lawyers early that morning. Attorney Shannon Smith accused prosecutors of “cherry-picking” facts to release publicly, including the accusation that their teenage son had unrestricted access to the handgun that prosecutors say his father purchased for him days before the shooting.

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“Our clients are just as devastated as everyone else,” Smith said, adding that the gun “was locked.” She didn’t provide more detail during Saturday’s hearing.

Police mug shots of James and Jennifer Crumbley
James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the Michigan school shooting suspect, after their arrest in Detroit.
(Oakland County [Mich.] Sheriff’s Office)

But Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the couple took $4,000 out of an ATM not far from law enforcement or court locations they could have reported to, suggesting they could not be trusted to appear for future court hearings.

“These are not people we can be sure will return to court on their own,” she said.

McDonald’s office filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Crumbleys on Friday, accusing them of failing to intervene on the day of the tragedy despite being shown violent drawings with chilling messages including “blood everywhere,” which a teacher found at the boy’s desk.

The couple could face up to 15 years in prison each, according to a spokeswoman for McDonald’s office.

The Crumbleys committed “egregious” acts, McDonald said Friday, including buying a gun and making it available to their son and resisting his removal from school Tuesday when they were summoned to a meeting with school officials a few hours before the shooting.

Authorities had been looking for the couple since Friday afternoon. Late Friday, U.S. Marshals announced a reward of up to $10,000 each for information leading to their arrests.

Smith, the Crumbleys’ attorney, said Friday that the pair had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety” and would be returning to Oxford to face charges.

But Detroit Police Chief James E. White seemed to dismiss the possibility that was their intention.

“This isn’t indicative of turning yourself in — hiding in a warehouse,” he said.

White said the couple “were aided in getting into the building,” and that a person who helped them may also face charges.

The teenage suspect in Tuesday’s high school shooting in Michigan is charged as an adult as a fourth student dies.

During Saturday’s hearing, Smith said the Crumbleys were in touch by phone and text on Friday evening, and blamed prosecutors for failing to communicate with her and fellow defense attorney Mariell Lehman.

“Our clients were absolutely going to turn themselves in; it was just a matter of logistics,” Smith said.

A Detroit business owner spotted a car tied to the Crumbleys in his parking lot late Friday, Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said in a statement. A woman seen near the vehicle ran away when the business owner called 911, McCabe said. The couple was later located and arrested by Detroit police.

McCabe added that the parents appeared to be “distressed” when they were captured.

“Head down ... just very upset,” he said of one of the parents.

On Friday, McDonald detailed the events before the shooting at Oxford High School, roughly 30 miles north of Detroit, where investigators say Ethan Crumbley, 15, began shooting students in the hallway after emerging from a bathroom with a gun. He’s charged as an adult with crimes including murder and terrorism.

School officials had become concerned when a teacher saw the younger Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone on Monday, the day before the shooting, McDonald said.

The school informed Jennifer Crumbley, who then told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” according to the prosecutor.

On Tuesday, before the shooting, a teacher found a note on the teen’s desk that had drawings of a gun, a bullet and a person who appeared to have been shot; with the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” “blood everywhere,” “My life is useless,” and “The world is dead,” McDonald said.

A Michigan schools chief says no discipline was necessary for a teen who was summoned to the office before he allegedly shot four students to death.

In a hastily called meeting with the teen and his parents, school officials said he needed to get into counseling within 48 hours, the prosecutor said.

But the teen returned to class after the Crumbleys failed to ask him about the gun or check his backpack and “resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time,” McDonald said.

The fatal shooting took place just hours later.

“The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable — it’s criminal,” the prosecutor said.

In a written statement released Saturday, Oxford Community Schools Supt. Tim Throne detailed the school’s response to the teen’s behavior.

At his first meeting with a counselor and a staff member, Ethan Crumbley said shooting sports were a family hobby, Throne said.

In a second meeting with guidance counselors, the teen said that the drawings were part of a video game design and that he wanted to pursue a career in that field, Throne’s statement said. Counselors said the student was calm and worked on homework while staff contacted his parents and they traveled to the school.

In their meeting, his parents did not tell counselors that they had recently bought their son a gun, Thorne said, adding: “Given the fact that the child had no prior disciplinary infractions, the decision was made he would be returned to the classroom rather than sent home to an empty house.”

It wasn’t until after the shooting, the prosecutor said Friday, that Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, saying, “Ethan, don’t do it,” and that James Crumbley called 911 to say a gun was missing from their home and their son might be the shooter. The gun had been kept in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom, McDonald said.

The prosecutor said that Ethan Crumbley was there when his father bought the gun on Black Friday, and that the teen then posted photos of the firearm on social media, saying, “Just got my new beauty today.” And that weekend, Jennifer Crumbley posted on social media about having a “mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present,” McDonald said.

Under Michigan law, involuntary manslaughter charges can be filed against a person who contributed to a situation where there was a high chance of harm or death.

Parents in the U.S. are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children, though experts say most underage shooters get the guns they use from a parent or relative’s house.

Asked whether school officials might be charged as well, McDonald said: “The investigation’s ongoing.”

White reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Mike Householder in Detroit and David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.


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