DETROIT — A Michigan prosecutor on Friday filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of the suspect in the suburban Detroit school shooting after she said they purchased the firearm for their son as a Christmas gift.
Jennifer and James Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Their 15-year-old son, Ethan, is accused of fatally shooting four students and injuring seven others at Oxford High School on Tuesday.
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.
Crumbley had posted about the firearm online and researched ammunition while at school, McDonald said the investigation revealed. According to her, he was also permitted to return to class the day after the shooting.
“The facts of this case are so egregious,” McDonald said.
Michigan School Shooting Suspect is facing Life in PrisonWhat does murder and terrorism mean?
Crumbley was arrested Wednesday for murder, terroristic and other offenses in an investigation that investigators called a deliberate and methodical massacre.
McDonalds answered the question, “Yes.”
“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.
Let’s see what we can learn Friday.
Prosecutor: The gun was a Christmas present
McDonalds revealed how and why the suspect acquired the weapon, as well as other signs that warned him in days preceding the shooting.
McDonald said the suspect was present when his dad purchased the 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 on Nov. 26. The same day, the suspect 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 to find ammo and created drawings.
The drawing of the suspect prompted concerns on the day for shooting
Also, the suspect at 15 was caught searching online for ammunition before 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 drawing of a firearm and someone who appeared to be bleeding, McDonald said.
The drawing was taken by a teacher, who immediately called Crumbley’s family. McDonald’s said that Crumbley altered the drawing after it was presented to him and Crumbley’s parents.
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.
McDonald’s added, “Ofcourse, he shouldn’t have returned to that classroom.”
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. As a prosecutor, I am angry. 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.”
Both the FBI and Secret Service investigate threats.
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 securing their children and not compromising their mental or emotional well-being.
Jill Dillon (51) recalls dropping her 14 year-old son at school Wednesday morning. “I felt like i was going to throw it up,” she said. “It was nauseating thinking that I’m supposed take him someplace safe. And is he really going anywhere safe?”
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
Insta scam accounts are multiplying
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 explained that social media accounts belonging to alleged perpetrators of active threat are removed through an opaque process in such situations. The platforms are alerted by either their algorithms or law enforcement.
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: Elisha, Detroit Free Press; The Associated Press