DETROIT — Hours after a prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of the suspect in the Oxford High School shooting, authorities claimed they appeared to be fleeing from authorities.

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. Their 15-year-old son, Ethan, is accused of fatally shooting four students and injuring seven others at Oxford High School on Tuesday.

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 afternoon, 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.

The family lawyers stated that they aren’t fleeing the authorities, and the couple will be returning to the same area where they were evacuated from during the chaos following the tragic events.

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.

At this point, Ethan Crumbley is being searched by his parents. However, we are prepared to provide any assistance requested by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office,” said Mara Schneider, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Detroit field office.

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 class the day after the meeting with the parents.  

“The facts of this case are so egregious,” McDonald said.

Experts say that parents of shooters are rarely charged with any chargesMichigan School Shooting is “so horrendous” that the parents of the suspect are being charged.

Michigan School Shooting Suspect is facing Life in PrisonWhat does murder and terrorism mean?

Crumbley, an adult charged with murder, terror and other offences in a systematic and deliberate massacre was announced Wednesday by investigators.

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. 

We know what Friday is like:

Prosecutor – 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.

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 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. McDonalds stated that Crumbley had made changes to the drawing when he brought it in with Crumbley, his parents, and school counselor.

Crumbley was allowed to go back to class after a counselor informed his parents. 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 am angry because I’m a mother. As a prosecutor, I am angry. I feel angry for the people who live in this area. I’m angry. McDonald’s stated that there were many things that could be prevented.

Parents are being warned about a slew of copycat threats that have been made to schools in Metro Detroit.

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 securing their children and not compromising their mental or emotional well-being.

Jill Dillon (51) recalls dropping her 14 year-old son at school on Wednesday morning. “I felt like i was going to vomit,” she said. It was nauseating to think that I am supposed to take him somewhere safe. But is he going to be 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

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. You can read more about it here. 

— Ashley Nerbovig, Detroit Free Press

Contributing: Elisha, Detroit Free Press; The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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