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Parents of Michigan shooting suspect face charges: What legal analysts say


Legal experts were quick to point out that such charges were far from the norm – that Ethan, the 15-year-old son of James and Jennifer Crumbley, allegedly pulled the trigger and killed 4 his high school students.

“It’s particularly unusual,” said Cassandra Crifasi, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence and Research. “We rarely hold people accountable for giving someone a gun they shouldn’t have.”

But the couple’s behavior was accused of being too serious that led to the charges.

On the day of the shooting, a teacher noticed a disturbing drawing that Ethan had drawn, including “a drawing of a semi-automatic pistol pointing to the words ‘thoughts won’t help me'” and a drawing of a bullet with “blood everywhere” written on it, McDonald said.

Later, when called to the school’s office and asked for advice for their son, the couple made no attempt to determine where the gun was, or whether their son was carrying it that day. or not, the prosecutor said. Parents were “against” sending Ethan to school that day, and he went back to class.

An investigation found the gun was stored in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom, McDonald said.

“They didn’t even reveal it at the time or check to see if their son had that weapon, or go straight home and see where the weapon was…. We knew that because right after the The public was informed of an active Shooter, Dad drove to the house, and it was for one reason: looking for that weapon, and finding it missing, then calling 911 and saying the gun This gun was lost, and I think my son was the shooter,” McDonald later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

She added that the allegation of terrorism in Michigan requires an action against a community, not the government.

“We also need to respect the hundreds of students who were at that school that day, running away from the building, hiding under desks, in the bathroom and sending messages. I had a chance to see some of those messages.. those kids sent it to their parents, and I can’t even imagine what that must be like Getting a text your kid is saying ‘I love you so much, I think I is about to be killed. . . ‘ Which charge solves that? And the answer is terrorism. I think it’s appropriate,” McDonald added.

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“These are unusual allegations,” said CNN legal analyst Areva Martin. “We know that prosecutors have been reluctant to press charges against parents in these school shootings, even though in some cases, like today’s petty cases, parents appear to have a number of responsibilities.”

Their defense will have to “show that these parents acted responsibly,” Martin said, adding that it was “an uphill battle for this defense team.”

Prosecutors say there are no safe gun storage laws in Michigan. “We are not legally required to keep your firearms safe,” she said.

That could be an obstacle to prosecution, Charles Coleman Jr., a former prosecutor, told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“Honestly, I don’t think the prosecution will have a strong case with them regarding any gun ownership laws in and of themselves, at least not against the parents.”

But because the involuntary charges do not require intent, “I think the prosecution is going to give some basis and get some action,” with those charges, Coleman said.

After the school informed parents Ethan Crumbley had searched for ammunition online the day before the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son: “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to study. way not to get caught,” McDonald said Friday.

Such texts and ignoring other “red flags” can ultimately be seen as supporting and supporting the end result, which is why I think these involuntary accusations will stick ,” Coleman said. “But I don’t see very clearly any kind of gun possession charge in this case.”

Crifasi welcomes the parents’ move to charge.

“It’s good to see officials in Michigan deciding to hold these parents accountable. We should do that every time someone uses a gun, especially in cases where the perpetrator is someone who can’t buy himself. legally,” Crifasi said.

McDonald’s said she doesn’t support every parent in active shootings being prosecuted.

“I have great compassion and empathy for parents whose children are struggling and at risk, for whatever reason, and I don’t mean to say that an active shooting situation always leads to the criminal prosecution of the parents But the truth of this, McDonald said.

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 and I think it is criminal.

Crifasi told the accusations there was hope for change amid all the carnage and heartbreak.

“Hopefully, this can serve as a wake-up call to people about the importance of responsible and safe gun storage and use, and more people will seriously consider the potential harms associated with firearms.” regarding giving people access to guns that shouldn’t be,” she said.

The prosecutor said the terrorist incident charged other victims of the shooting

Another uncommon charge in the case against Ethan Crumbley is a count of terrorism causing death. McDonald’s said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon about the alleged actions of the suspect complete the requirements for terrorism.

“What about the other kids, what about the kids running, screaming, hiding under the desks,” McDonald said. “And all the kids at home now who can’t eat, can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they can go back to school – those are the victims and so are their families and so are the communities and the terrorism allegations reflect that.”

McDonald told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday: “I don’t think it would be ethical not to charge that fee. “If we’re really going to work this out, if we really want to make sure it doesn’t happen again, we have to do things a little differently.”

“There’s no pamphlet on how to prosecute a school shooting and honestly, I wish I never had – it didn’t happen, so I wouldn’t have to look into it, but when we sit down, I want to make sure that all the victims are represented in the charges that we have filed against this individual,” McDonald told CNN. “If that’s not terrorism, I don’t know what is.”

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