Diner owner who hired Ethan Crumbley suspects he wasn’t always ‘a monster’; video captures teen collapsing

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Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley used to work at a diner and the owner of that establishment spoke with Fox News Digital on Monday afternoon, saying the teen never gave them reason to be concerned that he may be troubled.

Located about 40 miles north of Detroit, the 5-1 Diner is known for its local ingredients and reasonable prices, according to Fox News, and owner Nicole Ellsworth said Crumbley started working there in March 2020 but only picked up shifts “eight or nine times” once the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

“We never had any kind of issue with him at all,” Ellsworth said. “And he was a fairly good employee — just not a lot of experience.”

“Here, he was always polite. He’d say ‘Miss Nicole’ and ask me how my day was — things of that nature. Never once saw him angry or violent,” she added.

The owner suggested that the 15-year-old wasn’t too popular in school, saying he “talked to the kids” from Oxford High who worked at or came into the restaurant, but “they didn’t really know him.”

“They didn’t know he went to Oxford,” Ellsworth said.

She also said his half-brother, Eli, also worked in the diner before moving to Florida to live with his mother.

Ellsworth told Fox News that she feels “so guilty that none of us noticed anything was odd” about Crumbley — not that she could have prevented the shooting that took place, resulting in four students being killed and seven others injured, including a teacher.

“I feel guilty because some people don’t have their kids. I mean…would he have shot my son?” she said. “Probably.”

The Daily Mail obtained security camera footage from the diner on Sept. 20, 2020, showing Crumbley falling as he walked through the kitchen and hitting his head. Ellsworth said she called his parents to inform them of the accident and the parents told her their son “doesn’t eat much.”

“But it doesn’t really look like that’s what happened,” she added. “I would hate to speculate but…I don’t think he was always a monster. I think the parents had a lot to do with it. I think, during COVID, he was isolated, and… whatever they did, buying that gun for him…that’s child abuse, in my opinion.”

A former neighbor has said there was reason for concern years earlier, alleging that the parents’ actions prompted her to make a complaint with Children’s Protective Services.

Kayla LeMieux spoke to the Detroit Free Press, saying the Crumbleys often left their young son home alone while drinking at bars in downtown Lake Orion in 2014 and 2015 — he would have been between 8 and 9 years old at that time. LeMieux, who lived in the same complex as the Crumbleys, said she made an anonymous call to the state’s Children’s Protective Services, though she never knew whether any action was taken after the complaint.

“When they were gone, he would come knock on our door. They didn’t leave him with a phone,” she said, explaining that Ethan would ask her to call his parents.

The father, James Crumbley, bought the handgun used in the shooting at a local firearms store on Black Friday.

“I just think when they put that gun in his hand, it gave him power, and people recognize you, and it’s a sick, twisted thing,” Ellsworth said.

James and Jennifer Crumbley have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each and have a probable cause hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in an Oakland County court, Fox News reported.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said the parents “could have stopped [the shooting] and they had every reason to know that he was dangerous and they gave him a weapon and they didn’t secure it and they allowed him free access to it.”

Attorneys representing the parents disputed that account, saying the 9mm Sig Sauer handgun was actually “locked” up.

“That gun was actually locked, so when the prosecution is stating that this child had free access to a gun, that is…absolutely not true,” attorney Mariell Lehman said at their arraignment hearing.

Tom Tillison


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