Parents of Michigan shooter face involuntary manslaughter charges

After an hours-long manhunt, James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested for their role in the Oxford shooting


Ryan Garza / Detroit Free Press / TNS

A woman leaves a stuffed animal at a memorial at an entrance to Oxford High School on Dec. 1, following an active shooter situation at Oxford High School that left four students dead and multiple others with injuries.

Vanessa Moreno, Staff Writer

OAKLAND COUNTY, MICH. — On Dec. 4, James and Jennifer Crumbley were detained by the Oakland County Sheriff’s office following a manhunt throughout Detroit, Michigan. This was after they failed to act on their son, Ethan Crumbley’s, disturbing behavior that led to a school shooting. 

According to officials, on Nov. 26, James Crumbley purchased a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol while his son was with him. Ethan Crumbley posted the gun to his social media with the caption “Just got my new beauty today.” His mother, Jennifer Crumbley, posted on social media that it was his Christmas gift. 

On Nov. 29 a teacher at Oxford High School saw Ethan Crumbley looking up ammunition on his phone and reported it to school officials. Jennifer Crumbley was notified but she failed to act on the issue. Instead, she texted her son “LOL I’m not mad. You have to learn not to get caught.”

On Nov. 30, the day of the shooting, a teacher found disturbing drawings on Ethan Crumbley’s desk and notified school officials. James and Jennifer Crumbley were called to discuss their son’s behavior over the last two days. According to a statement released by the school, the parents were instructed to take their son to counseling within 48 hours or the school would call Child Protective Services.

After the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to inspect Ethan Crumbley’s backpack for the gun. They also refused to take their son home with them. Ethan Crumbley was sent back to class, as he had no previous disciplinary infractions, and counselors believed he was not a threat to himself or others based on his behavior at the meeting. He had appeared calm and even expressed concern over missing his science class.


Later in the day, Ethan Crumbley was seen entering a bathroom with his backpack. He then walked out with the gun purchased by his father earlier in the week and began shooting his classmates. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office received hundreds of phone calls within a minute. 


According to Undersheriff Mike McCabe, he was arrested within five minutes of the first 911 call. When news of the active shooter became public, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, “Ethan don’t do it.” James Crumbley also placed a 911 call to report a missing gun and that he believed his son was the shooter. 


Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling were all killed in the fatal shooting. A further seven students and one teacher were injured. 


Following his arrest, Oakland Prosecutor Karen McDonald decided that Ethan Crumbley would face one count of terrorism, 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. Further, McDonald denied bond and made the decision to charge him as an adult. A not guilty plea was entered into the court on Ethan Crumbley’s behalf. 


On Dec. 3, four involuntary manslaughter charges were issued for both James and Jennifer Crumbley due to their failure to act on their son’s behavior. Each charge carries a minimum of 15 years in prison if found guilty. 


An arraignment was scheduled for them, but they failed to show up, making them fugitives. This led to an hours-long manhunt throughout Oakland County. The couple was eventually found hiding inside an industrial building in Detroit, 40 miles south from where they lived. Officials are currently looking into who helped the Crumbleys hide in the building. On Dec. 4, they were arrested and handed over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. They were transferred to the Oakland County Jail where their son also resides, but were separated. 


Following their arrest, Oxford High School released a statement expressing their grief over the events. They also defended their decision to send Ethan Crumbley back to class after the meeting on the day of the shooting. 


“While we understand this decision has caused anger, confusion and prompted understandable questioning,” wrote Oxford High School Superintendent Tim Throne, “the counselors made a judgment based on their professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts we now know.”


Throne has also requested a third-party investigation of all the events that occured prior to and on Nov. 30. 


A probable cause conference is scheduled on Dec. 13 for Ethan Crumbley. James and Jennifer Crumbley will have their probable cause hearing on Dec. 22.