DETROIT — James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the teen charged in the Oxford High School shooting were located and arrested early Saturday in Detroit, a little more than two hours after a citizen saw their vehicle and called police.
The authorities had begun searching for the Crumbleys around noon Friday, after the couple was charged with four counts of involuntary killing in relation to the deaths at the Michigan highschool. Their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of fatally shooting four students and injuring seven others at the suburban Detroit high school on Tuesday.
Their arraignment in Rochester Hills on Friday, May 7, was not attended by the Crumbley family. U.S. Marshals Service There were “Wanted” posters and offered a reward for information leading to their arrests.
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation into the shootings, and also the search for Crumbleys. Mike McCabe, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff, stated that the vehicle was discovered around 11:20 p.m. on Friday.
“The owner of the building arrived and saw the car in the back parking lot, knew it didn’t belong there, went to investigate,” McCabe told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Based on information from law enforcement, the owner of the building recognized the car and checked the license plate. The match was confirmed, so he called 911.
The Crumbleys were taken into police custody at 1:45 am.
Jennifer and James Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after the prosecutor said they bought the firearm for their son as a Christmas gift.
During a hearing that started around noon, a lieutenant with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said the parents were not in custody. As of Friday night, the Oakland County Fugitive Team and several other agencies were still searching for them.
“The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a release Friday. They cannot hide their role in this tragedy.
However, the lawyers for the family claimed that the couple were not fleeing authorities. They had returned to the region after briefly leaving town amid the chaos surrounding the tragedy.
The Crumbleys fled town the night before the shooting to ensure their safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned,” their lawyers Smith and Mariell Lehman said.
The gun had been stored in an unlocked drawer in their house, and Crumbley’s parents did not ask where it was when they were called to the school the day of the shooting for a disturbing drawing their son made of a firearm, said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald at a news conference Friday.
Ethan Crumbley had posted about the firearm online and researched ammunition while at school, McDonald said the investigation revealed. McDonald said that Ethan Crumbley was permitted to return to school on the morning of the shooting, following a meeting with his parents.
“The facts of this case are so egregious,” McDonald said.
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Crumbley, an adult charged with murder, terror and other offences in a systematic and deliberate massacre was taken into custody Wednesday.
McDonald’s responded that her office is still investigating any charges against school officials when she was asked if it was.
“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,” she said.
We know what Friday is like:
Prosecutor: The gun was the ‘Christmas gift’
At a news conference Friday, McDonald laid out how Ethan Crumbley got the weapon other warning signs in the days leading up to the shooting.
McDonald said Ethan Crumbley was there when his father bought the 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 on Nov. 26. The same day, the younger Crumbley posted photos of the weapon online, calling it his “new beauty.” His mom said in a post the following day, “Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present,” McDonald said.
“Clearly based on the statements of the shooter (and) the statements of mom, that was his gun,” McDonald said.
ProsecutorReport: The school officials suspected that the shooter was a student. He searched online for ammo and created drawings.
Day of shooting: Suspect was worried about his drawing
The suspect, aged 15, was also found looking for ammunition online at school prior to the attack. McDonald said school officials contacted his mother about the online search, leaving a voicemail and email, but received no response. Crumbley’s mother instead texted him the same day, “LOL I’m not mad at you. McDonald’s said, “You have to be able to not get caught.”
Hours before the shooting, Crumbley was found with a disturbing drawing that included a a firearm and someone who appeared to be bleeding, McDonald said.
One teacher snapped a photograph of Crumbley’s drawing and his parents were immediately contacted. McDonalds stated that Crumbley had made changes to the drawing when he brought it in with Crumbley, his parents, and school counselor.
The counselor advised Crumbley’s parents that he needed counseling. However, Crumbley was able return to school. His parents did not ask him about the firearm at that time nor did they search his backpack, McDonald said.
McDonalds said, “Of course he shouldn’t go back to that class.”
After reports of the shooting at the school, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, “Ethan don’t do it,” McDonald said. James Crumbley drove home to search for the firearm and called 911 to report it missing, saying he believed his son was the shooter, McDonald said.
“I feel angry for my mother. “I’m mad at the prosecutor. As a resident of this county, I am angry. I’m angry. McDonald’s stated that there were many things that could be prevented.
Copicat threats in metro Detroit threaten schools and parents
Copycat threats circulated on social media and districts canceled classes Thursday out of caution for students’ safety.
A 17-year-old student in Southfield, about 30 miles from Oxford High School, was arrested Thursday with a semi-automatic pistol. A bomb threat was also made at South Lake High School, about 45 miles from Oxford, and prompted a police investigation.
“If you’re making threats, we’re going to find you,” Bouchard said during a news conference Thursday that was specifically called to address the estimated hundreds of copycat threats reported. “It is ridiculous you’re inflaming the fears and passion of parents, teachers, and the community in the midst of a real tragedy.”
Threats are being investigated by the FBI as well as Secret Service.
False threats can lead to criminal charges, including a 20 year felony and misdemeanor malicious use of a phone.
Parents are trying to find a balance between ensuring the security of their children and not compromising their mental or emotional well-being.
Jill Dillon (51), recalls feeling like she was about to vomit after dropping her 14-year old son off at school on Wednesday morning. “It was very nauseating thinking I should be taking him somewhere safe. And is that really what he will be doing?
David Roden, a 14-year-old freshman at Northville High School, which stayed open Thursday, said the confusion of what’s real and what’s not was the scariest part.
Everyone was nervous. He said, “It’s kinda weird being so close to the situation.”
— Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press
False Instagram accounts multiplied
Fake social media accounts claiming to be the 15-year-old charged in the Oxford High School shooting began popping up even before his name was released by law enforcement, and some made threats about additional shootings and plans for revenge.
While direct threats may lead to criminal charges, the spread of false information via deceiving accounts is a common problem in the wake of mass shootings, often is not illegal and sometimes does not violate social media platforms’ terms of service.
“Unfortunately, poor taste is not against the law,” said Lt. Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police.
It is unlikely any social media accounts that chronicled Crumbley’s alleged criminal activity remain active on these platforms, said Cliff Lampe, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information.
Lampe stated that in active threats situations the accounts on social media of suspected perpetrators can be taken down using an opaque process. Law enforcement or platforms alert them.
The tendency of social media platforms to make some user accounts “disappear in the night” can help feed the creation of these fake accounts, Lampe said. However, the common practice of setting up “sock puppets” online would happen regardless, he said.
“Sock puppet accounts and spoof accounts have been part of internet culture for almost as long as the internet has been around,” Lampe said. Learn more.
— Ashley Nerbovig, Detroit Free Press
Contributing: Darcie Morrison, Tyler J. Davis and Phoebe Wall Howard. Elisha Anderson. Paul Egan. Detroit Free Press. The Associated Press