Days after the authorities said a Michigan high school student opened fire at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit, killing four people and wounding seven others, the prosecutor announced that she would also pursue criminal charges against his parents.
At a news conference on Friday, Karen D. McDonald, the prosecutor in Oakland County, Mich., detailed which actions of James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the 15-year-old suspect, led to her decision to file criminal charges.
Read a transcript of Ms. McDonald’s statement below, which is lightly edited for clarity.
While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to the events on Nov. 30, and it’s my intention to hold them accountable as well. It’s imperative we prevent this from happening again. No other parent or community should have to live through this nightmare.
I have shared previously, and I will reiterate today that gun ownership is a right. And with that right comes great responsibility. Based on the information and evidence I received, today I am announcing charges against the shooter’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley. The charges are as follows: James Crumbley is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Jennifer Crumbley is also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. I will now publish the details that led to that decision and have already previously been made public.
The investigation into the school shooting incident at Oxford High School, which occurred on Nov. 30, 2021, has revealed that James Crumbley purchased the SIG Sauer 9-millimeter model SP2022 from Acme Shooting Goods in Oxford, Mich., on Nov. 26, 2021. A store employee confirms that Ethan Crumbley was present with James at the time of the purchase. Per statute, James Crumbley completed ATF form 5300.9A.
On or about Nov. 26, 2021, Ethan Crumbley’s social media posts reveal photos of a semiautomatic handgun, along with the caption, “Just got my new beauty today,” including an emoji with hearts. “SIG Sauer 9 mm. Any questions I will answer.”
Subsequent to the purchase of that weapon, one of Jennifer Crumbley’s social media posts on about 11/27/21, read, “Mom and son day, testing out his new Christmas present.”
[The day before the shooting] a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class and reported the same to school officials. Jennifer Crumbley was contacted via voice mail by school personnel regarding that son’s inappropriate internet search. School personnel indicate they followed that voice mail up with an email but received no response from either parent. Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day, saying: “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
On Nov. 30, 2021, the morning of the shooting the next day, Ethan Crumbley’s teacher came upon a note on Ethan’s desk which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cellphone. The note contained the following: a drawing of a semiautomatic handgun, pointing at the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet, with the following words above that bullet: “Blood everywhere.” Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, “My life is useless.” And to the right of that are the words, “The world is dead.”
As a result, James and Jennifer Crumbley were immediately summoned to the school. A school counselor came to the classroom and removed the shooter and brought him to the office with his backpack. Counselor obtained the drawing but the shooter had already altered it. The drawings of the gun and the bloody figure were scratched out along with the words, “Help me” and “My life is useless,” “The world is dead,” and “Blood everywhere.” Those were all altered by him.
At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours. Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him. James and Jennifer Crumbley resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time. Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. He was returning to the classroom.
When the news of the active shooter at Oxford High School had been made public, Jennifer Crumbley texted to her son at 1:22 p.m., “Ethan, don’t do it.”
At 1:37 p.m., James Crumbley called 911, reporting that a gun was missing from his house, and he believed his son may be the shooter.
Further investigation revealed that the SIG Sauer 9-millimeter handgun purchased by James Crumbley was stored unlocked in a drawer in James and Jennifer’s bedroom. The gun recovered from the shooter at the school after the shooting was the same gun that was purchased by his father, James Crumbley, on Nov. 26, 2021, in the presence of his son.
I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable, and also send the message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences. As we work together to honor the lives lost and all of those impacted by the evil acts this week, justice for the victims and their families is at the forefront of today’s announcement. We need to do better in this country. We need to say enough is enough.