The parents of a Michigan teenager accused of murdering four fellow high school students were arrested Saturday, a day after the pair were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the mass shooting.
A manhunt was launched across the wider Detroit area for James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are accused of buying the gun for their son as a Christmas present and then ignored warning signs that may have prevented the massacre.
The pair were stopped by police in the early hours of Saturday and taken into custody.
On Friday, their attorney Shannon Smith said the Crumbleys weren’t on the run and had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety.”
“They are returning to the area to be arraigned,” Smith said in a statement. “They are not fleeing from law enforcement.”
Shooter charged as an adult
On Tuesday, Ethan Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School, around 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit, killing four students and wounding seven other people.
The 15-year-old now faces several charges as an adult, including murder.
Oakland County prosecutor Karen Mcdonald told a news conference Friday that Ethan’s parents would face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.
“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,” Mcdonald said. “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 November 30 and it’s my intention to hold them accountable as well.”
Suspect with his father at time of purchase
Just four days before the school shooting, James Crumbley legally bought the handgun that authorities say Ethan used in the attack that killed four children aged 14 to17. James’ son was with him at the time of purchase, prosecutors said.
“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” McDonald had said Thursday. The weapon “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”
The prosecutor said then that the parents’ conduct went “far beyond negligence.”
When he heard reports of a shooting at the school, Ethan’s father instantly drove home to look for the gun, which was nowhere to be found, McDonald said at a news conference on Friday. Crumbley then called authorities to say he suspected his teenage son may be the individual who carried out the shooting.
While teens have been responsible for several school shootings in the United States, it remains uncommon for a suspect’s parents to also face charges.
“We need to do better in this country,” McDonald said. “We need to say enough is enough for our kids, our teachers, parents, for all of us in this community and the communities across this nation.”
mm,jsi/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)