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Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect held on $500,000 bond each after manhunt

<i>Oakland County Sheriff's Office</i><br/>The parents of school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley were booked early Saturday morning in the same jail where their son is incarcerated
Oakland County Sheriff's Office
The parents of school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley were booked early Saturday morning in the same jail where their son is incarcerated

By Carolyn Sung, Shimon Prokupecz and Jason Hanna, CNN

The parents of the teen accused in this week’s deadly Michigan high school shooting pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges Saturday morning, hours after police said they arrested them in a Detroit warehouse following an hours-long search.

A judge in Michigan’s Oakland County set bond at $500,000 each for James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the teen jailed on suspicion killing four schoolmates and wounding seven other people at Oxford High School on Tuesday.

The detained couple, sitting alone in separate rooms, made their arraignment appearance by video conference with the judge, their attorneys and the county prosecutor.

Both spoke little beyond saying they understood each charge — with Jennifer Crumbley appearing to cry between words — and pleaded “not guilty” to each.

During the arraignment, their attorneys stressed their clients had fully intended to turn themselves in before authorities arrested them Saturday morning, and denied prosecutors’ assertions that their son had unrestricted access to the gun he’s accused of using.

James and Jennifer Crumbley had been charged Friday with four counts of involuntary manslaughter over Tuesday’s shooting, and were supposed to attend an arraignment Friday afternoon, authorities said.

But they missed the Friday arraignment, making them fugitives and setting off a search for them, authorities said.

Early Saturday, police said they found the couple on the first floor of an industrial or commercial building in Detroit — some 40 miles south of the Oxford area where they live — after someone tipped police Friday night that their vehicle was nearby.

“They appeared to be hiding in the building,” Detroit Police Chief James White said during a news conference early Saturday. They were “very distressed” after they were detained, the chief said.

White said he didn’t know the Crumbleys’ intentions, but that “this isn’t indicative of turning themselves in, hiding in a warehouse.”

White added someone let the couple into the building, and said that person could face charges.

The Detroit Police Department has identified a person who guided the Crumbleys as they parked their vehicle in the back of the building where they were found, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the person potentially faces “charges for either aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice” as determined by the county prosecutor.

“We believe they were assisted in that location to get there, to get in, and we’re gathering that information,” Bouchard said in a news conference Saturday afternoon.

Ethan Crumbley was charged Wednesday as an adult with terrorism, murder and other counts in the shooting.

Bouchard said there was clear evidence the shooting was premeditated and that the shooter was “looking forward to it.”

The shooting — the deadliest at a US K-12 campus since 2018 and the 32nd such attack since August 1 — claimed the lives of Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.

Parents’ attorney says ‘the gun was locked,’ and son didn’t have free access

During Saturday’s arraignment, defense lawyers denied prosecutors’ contentions that the parents gave Ethan Crumbley unfettered access to the gun he’s accused of using.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has alleged that James Crumbley on November 26 bought the gun at a store in Oxford, and that the parents gave the weapon to their son as an early Christmas present.

During Saturday’s arraignment, McDonald said, “It’s … clear from the facts that (Ethan Crumbley) had total access to this weapon,” and that the parents “didn’t secure (the gun) and they allowed him free access to it.”

James Crumbley shook his head as McDonald made both statements.

One of the parents’ attorneys, Shannon Smith, countered during the hearing that “the gun was actually locked.”

“When the prosecution is stating that this child had free access to a gun, that is just absolutely not true,” Smith said. “This court is going to see … there is far more going on than what this court has been made aware of.”

Couple withdrew $4,000 from an ATM on Friday, official told CNN

The defense attorneys and the prosecutor also clashed over whether the couple were fleeing prosecution or intended to turn themselves in before they were arrested.

The US Marshals Service was helping local authorities search for the couple Friday, and had offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information that could lead to their arrest. Authorities publicized a description of their vehicle.

Ultimately, Detroit police made the arrest after a business owner saw a woman standing near “the suspect vehicle” in his parking lot Friday night and called 911, according to a statement to CNN from Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe.

Prosecutors had worried about the couple escaping because they didn’t have ties to their community, and officials had trouble locating the Crumbleys once their son was being arraigned, a law enforcement source told CNN on Friday.

The parents also withdrew $4,000 Friday from an ATM in Rochester Hills, about 10 to 15 miles from Oxford, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Law enforcement were tracking the couple’s whereabouts by cell phone pings, but that signal had dropped because the couple’s cell phones were turned off, the official said.

On Saturday, McDonald cited the ATM withdrawal and “attempts to hide their location” as reasons to set bond at $500,000 each.

“These are not people that we could be assured will return to court on their own,” McDonald said.

One of the couple’s attorneys had earlier stated that the Crumbleys had left town for their own safety and were returning for their arraignment.

At Saturday’s hearing, Crumbley attorney Smith said she and her colleagues “called the prosecutor’s office throughout the day (Friday) and never got a call back,” and that “we were going to make arrangements to have our clients turn themselves in.” Smith also claimed she didn’t know the precise time of Friday’s arraignment.

“They were scared; they were terrified; they were not at home; they were figuring out what to do, getting finances in order,” Smith said Saturday.

By night, the defense attorneys made plans with the Crumbleys to turn them in to authorities Saturday morning, Smith said.

“We did not announce it, because unlike the prosecution, we weren’t attempting to make this a media spectacle,” she said.

McDonald countered that “these defendants did not need my permission” to turn themselves in.

The Crumbleys’ attorneys asked for bonds of $50,000 or $100,000.

The couple is being held in the same county jail as their son. All three are kept separated and are closely watched, Bouchard said. There is no indication that they are suicidal, he said.

Prosecutors reveal more on parents role before shooting

The arrests come after officials revealed more information Friday regarding the circumstances leading up to the deadly shooting.

Shortly after James Crumbley bought the gun November 26, his son posted a picture of a gun on an Instagram account and captioned it, “Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm” with a heart-eyes emoji, McDonald said.

Jennifer Crumbley also posted about the gun on social media, calling it “his new Christmas present,” McDonald continued. And his mother also took him to a shooting range the weekend before the shooting at the school, according to a law enforcement.

On Monday — the day before the shooting — a teacher saw Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his phone and reported it to school officials, the prosecutor said.

Jennifer Crumbley did not respond to school officials when they called her about that conduct — but later that day sent a text message to her son saying, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” McDonald said.

Then on Tuesday — the day of the shooting — a different teacher became alarmed after the alleged shooter had a drawing that showed a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” McDonald said.

Another section displayed a drawing of a bullet with the words “Blood Everywhere” written above it. Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is one of a person who seems to have been shot twice and is bleeding, McDonald said.

“Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji,” McDonald said.

Also found on the note, according to McDonald: “My life is useless” and “The world is dead.”

The parents were called for a meeting in the school with a counselor and their son, who had altered the illustration by scratching out the drawings of the gun and bloody figure, along with the words, according to McDonald.

The parents refused to take their son out of the school, and he was allowed back to class.

Later that day, according to prosecutors, Crumbley opened fire outside a bathroom, aiming at students in the hallway as well as those who were hiding in classrooms.

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CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Mark Morales, Andy Rose, Elizabeth Joseph, Melanie Schuman, Sonia Moghe, Artemis Moshtaghian, Sahar Akbarzai and Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.

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Comments

62 Comments

    1. I just combed through this article again looking for where it stated the parents political affiliation. Couldn’t find it. As Barney would say, got proof?
      If you replaced your assumption with something like “ irresponsible parents” then I’d be on your side.

            1. Blue Danube: They’ve had years now to get over their middle school-esque crush, there’s no way they don’t know the truth about him. They know and either tolerate it or embrace it, they’re too prideful/pig-headed to admit how wrong they’ve been.
              To that point, I voted for Biden although he was not my first or even second choice in the primaries. I was wrong in convincing myself he’d have less unfair opposition from the right which is disappointing. I would rate his performance to date as “satisfactory”, I was wrong when I incorrectly assumed it would be higher at this point.
              IMO that’s how an adult admits when they’re wrong. Red-hatters are unaware, either by choice or lack of accurate knowledge.

              1. I voted for Trump twice. The first time because I believed that
                he had a lot of great ideas and because he would finally bring change
                to our country. The second time I voted for him because I couldn’t
                stand the thought of Biden and his token VP in the White House.
                Thanks to the malicious Dems, and the liberally biased media, Trump never
                stood a chance. I’ve said it before, Trump had completely derailed mentally
                near the end of his term, and I honestly didn’t want him reelected because
                I don’t think that he mentally capable of doing the job.
                Ironically neither is Biden, and he continues to prove it almost daily.
                Not all Trump supporters worship the man…

                1. Mike338: Thanks for your well-said and well-thought out response, I sincerely appreciate your openess. I assumed Trump would become, or at least act, presidential after he was sworn in but it was downhill from there. This whole ‘stop the steal’ malarkey is dividing us perhaps to the point of no return, only HE can make it stop and he refuses. I sure don’t have a clue how this will play out, but it’s a bit frightening. My best to you, thank you again for your response.

  1. “The parents refused to take their son out of the school, and he was allowed back to class.”

    Since when is it the parents job to take their kid out of school ? That’s the job
    of the school administration. If they thought that the situation warranted the parents
    taking him out of school, the school should have kicked him out.

    1. The latest Trumplican hotbed issue is parental rights. Parents are suing for the right to ban books, teach only an approved white biased history, discriminate against students based on gender identity, force prayer and shows of loyalty, and make their own decisions in regard to protecting their kids with vaccines, condemning vulnerable students and staff to fend for themselves. Why would any red blooded Trumplican parent cede control of class attendence? But you’re right. The school is culpable in that they should have called in LE as soon as the teacher reported seeing the disturbing drawings and writing. I’ll be surprised if no school officials are fired or charged.

    2. “U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says “it’s time to give control back to parents, not woke bureaucrats.”
      Patrick Semansky/AP

      “We are asking OREGON parents who care about their child’s education to contact their school board, and ask them to adopt our Proclamation, affirming the rights of parents to influence policy and curriculum decisions, the heart of every school.” ParentsRightsinEducatiion

        1. Parents who want to teach their child indoctrination as opposed to education should home school. No sense in dragging the rest of society down the insanity hole with them.

          1. My point was that the far right wing conservatives want to give total control back to the parents. These parents made decisions against what the school asked them to do and now 4 people are dead. If they want control then they take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

            1. That is a good point, yet something still doesn’t pass the smell test. As a parent who has had children in public schools in Bend, Redmond and Warm Springs my knowledge is limited to those 3 School Districts. My question is simple, Has anyone ever heard of a situation when a school asked the parents of a disruptive child showing violent tendencies to remove their child and the parents said no? And if so, what was the result? I know for a fact in the Redmond School district the cops would be called ASAP if they were not already in the room! Those School Administrators have some explaining to do!

            2. Obviously parents shouldn’t have complete control, but conservative parents need to regain some control and input when it pertains to their childs education, because they have slowly been losing both for quite a few years.
              There is no equality in public education. It’s not a secret that education has become based solely on liberal ideals. It wasn’t accidental, it was by design, and there is very little if any teaching of conservative ideals. The public schools are supposed to teach all ideals equally so the students can make their own educated choices, but they don’t.
              I do agree that parents should take responsibility for their actions,
              but the public schools and their employees should also take responsibility.

          2. “Parents who want to teach their child indoctrination as opposed to education should home school. No sense in dragging the rest of society down the insanity hole with them.”

            Indoctrination in schools has been going on for quite awhile now, but it’s not
            the conservative bias that I think you are referring to. We have had three kids
            that were in public school, and the liberal bias and indoctrination is very clear.
            Schools are supposed to teach all sides of a matter, not just the liberal
            beliefs of the so called educators, but they don’t.

            1. What conservative ideals should be taught? Making women second class citizen incubators? Enforcing one religion over all? Denying any gender beside male or female? Denying the existence of inherent racism? Replacing truth with alternate history depicting whites as superior but racially naive? And there’s every red blooded American’s favorite – wanting to replace democracy with a dictatorship by overturning a secure election. Yeah, conservative ideals.

    3. Its the parents job to be responsible for their kids, not the schools or government. If the parents had done the right thing this wouldn’t have happened, period!

    4. sorry but with what they learned, i’m shocked that either the parents or the school were OK with him returning to class!!! but it’s clear his parents are probably pretty bad ones.

  2. These parents ignored red flags and gifted their son with a tool designed only to destroy. Seems fair they share in the consequences, though not nearly the catastrophic loss suffered by his classmates and their families and friends. Justice cannot ever be truly served in such a tragic situation, especially when it was preventable.

  3. Parents take all the credit when the kids are great but won’t take the blame when the kids are bad. Sorry folks, it goes both ways.
    FYI…I am pro gun & anti trump

  4. This family is a complete criminal failure.

    It’s so telling the mom wrote a glowing letter to Trump about “gun rights” a couple years ago.

    Also telling that she texts her son that it is OK to break any rule you want… just don’t get caught. Which sums up what I hate about Trump enablers.

    Trumpers only care about their immediate selfish needs and wants and do not care about community, or the rule of law or morality that holds it all together.

    1. trump supporter here and these parents clearly suck at their job and this was 100% preventable at every level. i support gun rights (don’t own one because i am clumsy and too fearful of the what if’s) but find it shocking that they would buy a gun FOR their kid. clearly they don’t monitor – or don’t care – his social media. he’s a child! i find her TXTs shocking as well.

      1. WOW! I don’t agree with most Trump supporters, however you might be the most sane person here 9both sides) to make a point without attacking others and with a good dose of common sense. Thank you for giving me some hope that we can agree to disagree without the hate. And yes I am guilty for attacking others when frustrated.

        1. Mega-dittoes, stoner. We’re all vulnerable to the emotions some comments here stir up, and salute those who can make their points in civil and respectful fashion.
          We all have enough examples of people who are unable to control themselves… not occasionally, but consistently;-/

    2. ” Trumpers only care about their immediate selfish needs and wants and do not care about community, or the rule of law or morality that holds it all together.”

      So you think that the holier than thou liberal hypocrites do care about community,
      the rule of law and morality ? That’s one of the funniest things that I have read all day.

      1. The holier-than-thou hypocrites are the (self-identified) conservatives who hide behind overly-simplistic claims about their “rights” as a justification for simple selfishness. Like the pro-virus crowd, they don’t understand that their rights don’t extend to intruding on the more fundamental liberties of others.

      1. The right to kill is getting easier to claim under various stand your ground laws enacted in several states. Look at somebody wrong, and your homicide can be easily justifiable with the words, “I felt threatened” mentioned to police. Throw in some crocodile tears, and the killer is home for dinner.

    1. I could be wrong (hey, it happened once back in ’67!) but it’s my understanding the Bill of Rights applies to American citizens age 18 and over. If accurate, the shooter has NO rights under the Second Amendment.

    1. Bend69 ~ parenting is not easy. One must be consistent. Starts with self and then the circle widens.

      I read the letter that “child of killer’s mother” wrote to Trump (Martha’s post). Mom was a whiner. Irresponsible. Had to pay for a tutor ~ and canceled her car insurance. That’s against the law last I checked (no auto coverage). Lose your license.

  5. All in all, some well thought out comments here. Regardless of our own personal ideologies, I think we can make our points without resorting to personally directed vitriol against others. Most of us–regardless of our politics–can agree that murder is a bad thing. I do hope we are not now seeing a trend of immature young people being enabled to carry out horrific crimes.

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