With James and Jennifer Crumbley now residing in the Oakland County jail, along with their 15-year-old son Ethan Crumbley, who allegedly emerged from an Oxford High School bathroom with a gun and opened fire on students, killing four of his classmates, there were plenty of signs that trouble was imminent.
But a former neighbor is saying there was reason for concern years earlier, alleging that the parents’ actions prompted her to make a complaint with Children’s Protective Services.
In addition to the four deaths, seven others were injured, including a teacher, in what appears to be a methodically planned attack. Ethan was charged as an adult with terrorism, murder and other counts in the shooting, and his parents, who reportedly bought the gun for the teen on Black Friday, were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
There were a number of warning signs ahead of the shooting, according to multiple reports, including a teacher catching Ethan Googling ammunition the day before the shooting, and troubling drawings seen on the teen’s desk that included the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” He explained to gullible school officials that the drawings and notes were for a video game he was designing.
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 said she lived in the same complex as the Crumbleys, which was less than a 10-minute walk to the heart of downtown Lake Orion.
LeMieux 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, the newspaper reported.
“When they were gone, he would come knock on our door,” she said of Ethan. “They didn’t leave him with a phone.”
A young boy at the time, LeMieux said Ethan would ask her to call his parents.
She further explained that she was friends with Jennifer and that they worked together in 2012 as restaurant servers, often hanging out together at downtown spots. LeMieux told the Free Press that the relationship eventually soured partly because of her concern for Ethan being left home alone.
“It was really when I finally started to say more, because I was just like, even after calling CPS, they were still doing it and even me saying something to them, they were still like ‘Oh he is fine,’ ” she said.
The former neighbor provided the newspaper with Facebook messenger conversations she had in 2015 with Jennifer and James Crumbley, where she comments on them leaving their son home alone while they were out drinking. The Free Press noted that the Facebook accounts appear to have been deleted.
Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said of the teen being caught searching for ammunition on his phone, “Instead of reacting to that as a concerned parent and worried about safety, Mrs. Crumbley texted, ‘L.O.L, just I’m not mad. Just next time, don’t get caught.'”
Jennifer Crumbley also boasted on social media about the handgun purchased for the teen.
“These two individuals could have stopped it 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,” McDonald said during a hearing Saturday, after the parents were arrested in Detroit.
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 during Saturday’s arraignment hearing.
The lawyers accused prosecutors of creating a media “spectacle” by issuing a “BOLO” on the Crumbleys, with Lehman insisting their clients “were absolutely going to turn themselves in. It was just a matter of logistics, and all the prosecution had to do was communicate with me about it.”
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