In a rare move, prosecutors on Friday filed criminal charges against the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley - the Michigan teenager accused of fatally shooting four classmates in the deadliest U.S. school shooting of 2021.
"These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message: that gun owners have a responsibility."
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said James and Jennifer Crumbley are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter for buying their son the weapon used in the shooting and for failing to heed warning signs.
McDonald said four days before the rampage James Crumbley brought his son with him when he purchased the handgun used in this week's attack at Oxford High School.
She also detailed chilling social media posts from Ethan and his mom Jennifer in the days following the purchase:
"On or about November 26, 21, Ethan Crumbley's social media post revealed photos of the semi-automatic handgun along with the caption "Just Got My New Beauty today" including an emoji with hearts.... Subsequent to the purchase of that weapon, one of Jennifer Crumbley's social media posts on about 11/27/21 read quote, "Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present." End quote."
The prosecutor described drawings and writings made by the alleged gunman in the lead up to the shooting suggesting the possibility that he was planning to open fire – but the parents refused to act.
“A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words quote: ‘The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.’ End quote.”
The Crumbleys met with school officials about the drawings on the morning of the rampage, but according to McDonald, did not pull Ethan out of school.
When Ethan’s father heard reports of the shooting, prosecutors say he immediately drove home to look for the gun which was missing.
“Further investigation revealed that the handgun purchased by James Crumbley was stored unlocked in a drawer in James and Jennifer’s bedroom.”
Parents are rarely charged in connection with children's school shootings. Unlike some states, Michigan does not legally require gun owners to keep their firearms secured from children.
Ethan Crumbley faces two dozen charges and is being held without bond.