PONTIAC, MICH. – A judge imposed a combined $1 million fine on Saturday for the parents of a Michigan teenager accused of killing four students at Oxford High School, hours after police said they were arrested. caught hiding in a commercial building in Detroit.
James and Jennifer Crumbley pleaded not guilty to each of the involuntary manslaughter charges against them during a hearing held on Zoom.
Judge Julie Nicholson handed over $500,000 to each parent and made other demands such as GPS monitoring, agreeing with prosecutors that they posed a risk to the flight.
Defense attorneys for the Crumbleys said they never intended to run away and plan to turn themselves in on Saturday morning.
They accused prosecutors of “cherry picking” events to go public and say their clients are terrified and just want time to sort things out.
“Our clients were devastated like everyone else,” said attorney Shannon Smith.
But Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the couple took $4,000 from an ATM not far from law enforcement or court locations they may have reported, indicating they cannot be trusted to appear in future trials.
“These are not people that we can be sure of going back to court on our own,” she said.
The McDonald’s office filed an involuntary manslaughter charge against the Crumbleys on Friday, alleging they failed to intervene on the day of the tragedy despite being faced with a chilling drawing and message – “the blood is in everywhere” – was found on the boy’s desk.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the Crumbleys engaged in “serious” behavior, from buying a gun on Black Friday and letting Ethan Crumbley fight expulsion when they were summoned several times. hours before the shooting.
Authorities have been searching for the couple since Friday afternoon. Late on Friday, the US Marshals announced a reward of up to $10,000 for each information leading to their arrest.
The Crumbleys’ lawyer, Shannon Smith, said on Friday that the couple had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety” and would return to Oxford to face the charges. But Detroit Police Chief James E. White seems to dismiss the possibility that that was their intention.
“This is not a sign of self-indulgence – hiding in a warehouse,” White said.
White said that the couple “was assisted in entering the building,” and that someone who helped them could also face charges.
A Detroit business owner discovered a car tied up with Crumbleys in his parking lot late Friday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael McCabe said in a statement.
McCabe said a woman seen near the vehicle fled when the business owner called 911. The couple was later located and arrested by Detroit police.
He added that the parents were “distressed” when they were arrested.
“Heads down… just very annoying,” he said of one of the parents.
McCabe said that the pair are scheduled to be placed in the Oakland County Jail.
On Friday, McDonald’s provided the most accurate account to date of the events leading up to the shooting at Oxford High School, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Detroit.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, emerged from the bathroom with a gun and shot students in the hallway, investigators said. He was charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other charges.
Under Michigan law, involuntary manslaughter charges against a parent can be prosecuted if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation that is more likely to result in harm or death.
Parents in the United States are rarely charged with school shootings involving their children, even when most minors take guns from the home of a parent or relative, according to experts. family.
McDonald’s said school officials were concerned about Crumbley on Monday, the day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him searching for ammunition on his phone.
Jennifer Crumbley was contacted and later told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at him. You have to learn not to get caught,” according to prosecutors.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a notepad on Ethan’s desk and took a photo. It was a drawing of a gun pointed at the words, “Thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” McDonald said.
There was also a drawing of a bullet, she said, with the words above it: “Blood everywhere.”
Between the gun and the bullets was a man who appeared to have been shot twice and was bleeding. He also wrote, “My life is useless” and “The world is dead,” according to the prosecutor.
The school promptly met with Ethan and his parents, who were asked to offer him counseling within 48 hours, McDonald said.
The Crumbleys did not ask their son about the gun or check his backpack and were “resistance to the idea of their son leaving school at the time,” McDonald said.
Instead, the teen returned to the classroom and the ensuing shooting occurred.
The prosecutor said: “The notion that a parent can read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon they gave him is unconscionable – that is crime. .
Jennifer Crumbley texted her son after the shooting, saying, “Ethan, don’t do that,” McDonald said.
James Crumbley called 911 to say that a gun was lost in their home and that Ethan might have been the shooter. McDonald said the gun was stored in an unlocked drawer in the parent’s bedroom.
Lawyers for the Crumbleys said Saturday that the weapon was locked but did not provide further information when the pair went to court.
Ethan went with his father to buy a gun on November 26 and posted photos of the gun on social media, saying, “I just got a new look today,” McDonald said.
Over the extended Thanksgiving weekend, Jennifer Crumbley wrote on social media that it was “a mother and son’s day to try out his new Christmas present,” prosecutors said.
When asked at a news conference if the father could be charged with buying a gun for his son, McDonald said that would be a federal decision.
In a video message to the community on Thursday, the head of Oxford Community School said the high school looked like a “war zone” and would not be ready for weeks. Superintendent Tim Throne continually commends students and staff on how they respond to violence.
He also noted the meeting of Crumbley, parents and school staff. Throne did not provide details but summed it up by saying, “No discipline is guaranteed.”
McDonald was asked about the decision to keep Crumbley at the school.
“Of course, he shouldn’t be back in that class. … I believe it’s a common position. I wouldn’t punish or attack, but yes,” she said.
When asked if school officials were likely to be charged, McDonald said: “The investigation is ongoing.”
White reports from Detroit. Associated Press journalists Mike Householder in Detroit and David Eggert of Lansing, Mich., also contributed to this report.