When 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley’s parents are reportedly on the run as charges for them were announced Friday. James are Jennifer Crumbley are being hunted by state and federal authorities, and have allegedly stopped responding to messages from the police.
Two attorneys working with the Crumbleys, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, issued a statement denying that the parents are evading authorities, claiming instead that the parents left the area for their safety and will be turning themselves in.
“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.”
However, Oakland County undersheriff Michael McCabe announced that the parents are not in custody, and are being considered fugitives.
The teen had previously met with school administration after a teacher reported that he had been searching for ammunition on his cell phone during school. Following the meeting, the Daily Mail reports that Jennifer Crumbley texted her son ‘lol, I’m not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught.’
The day of the shooting, the parents were once again summoned to the school after a teacher allegedly found a disturbing drawing on the teen’s desk.
She also revealed that on the morning of the shooting, a teacher found a chilling note on Ethan’s desk, which featured disturbing drawings depicting a semi-automatic gun, a bullet, a shooting victim and a laughing emoji.
According to the prosecutor, the note included the words ‘blood everywhere,’ ‘thoughts won’t stop, help me,’ ‘my life is useless’ and ‘the world is dead.’
The parents declined to remove their child from school on the day of the shooting, and his backpack was never searched. Nobody even asked him if he was in possession of the handgun. He reportedly never left school after the meeting, which leads one to believe he had the gun on his person the entire time, including during the meeting.
On Thursday, James and Jennifer Crumbley were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter as a result of the four classmates killed by their son, who used the newly purchased 9mm Sig Sauer pistol in the shooting, Fox News reported. Ethan fired at least 30 rounds, and in addition to the four fatalities, he wounded seven others, including a teacher.
According to police, James Crumbley purchased the handgun and prosecutors claim that the weapon was “freely” accessible, saying the parents actions not to secure the gun went “far beyond negligence.”
“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said, according to Fox News. The gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”
“All I can say at this point is those actions on mom and dad’s behalf go far beyond negligence,” she said. “We obviously are prosecuting the shooter to the fullest extent. … There are other individuals who should be held accountable.”
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tim Willis said Wednesday that Ethan recorded videos the night before the shooting in which he “talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School.”
The teen will be tried as an adult, and is facing one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
There is no Michigan law that requires gun owners keep weapons locked away from children, according to the Associated Press, but McDonald believes there’s more to build a case on — the AP noted that little more than half of the states have child access prevention laws related to guns, but that the laws vary widely and are seen by gun control advocates as weak.
Defense attorney William Swor, who is not involved in the case, told the news agency that charging the parents would require a “very fact-intensive investigation.”
“What did they know and when did they know it?” Swor said. “What advance information did they have about all these things? Did they know anything about his attitude, things of that nature. You’re talking about a very heavy burden to bring on the parents.”
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Crumbley’s parents had been called to the school for a meeting Tuesday just a few hours before the shooting, over concerns for Ethan’s behavior. The student met with school officials on Monday because of behavioral issues in the classroom.
After the meeting with the parents, Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools Tim Throne said that discipline wasn’t warranted and Ethan remained in school. A few hours later, police say he emerged from a bathroom with a gun and began firing at students in the hallway.
“I just can’t get to a space right now to blame anybody who worked at that school. They were terrorized,” McDonald said, according to the AP.
“Should there have been different decisions made?” she said, after being asked about Ethan staying in school. “Probably they will come to that conclusion. … Again, I have not seen anything that would make me think that there’s criminal culpability. It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy.”
Ethan was apprehended by police within five minutes of the first 911 call and still had 18 live rounds when arrested, Bouchard said.
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