Father of Michigan School Shooter Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

by State Brief

James Crumbley, the father of school shooter Ethan Crumbley, has been found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter over his son’s 2021 shooting, which left four students dead at Oxford High School.

The jury began deliberating on Tuesday and returned the verdict on Thursday.

Crumbley, 47, and his wife, Jennifer Crumbley, 45, are the first parents to be charged over their child committing a school shooting in the United States.

Jennifer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last month.

The Hill reports, “Prosecutor Karen McDonald urged the 12-member jury to convict Crumbley during her closing remarks, arguing that the father ignored ‘glaring opportunities’ to prevent his son from killing his classmates in November 2021.”

“In Michigan, a parent has a legal duty and James Crumbley did not meet that duty. His failure to act led to the deaths of Madisyn, Tate, Hana and Justin. I know this verdict will not bring them back, but I hope it will serve as an example of the importance of holding those who enable gun violence accountable,” McDonald said in a statement after the jury returned their verdict.

Ethan Crumbley shot and killed students Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17, at Oxford High School when he was 15 years old. Six other students and a teacher were also injured.

School officials met with Ethan and his parents the day before and the day of the shooting after a teacher noticed him using his phone to search for ammunition.

During a press conference before charging the parents, McDonald explained, “[The day before the shooting] a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class and reported the same to school officials. Jennifer Crumbley was contacted via voice mail by school personnel regarding that son’s inappropriate internet search. School personnel indicate they followed that voice mail up with an email but received no response from either parent. Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day, saying: ‘LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.'”

“On Nov. 30, 2021, the morning of the shooting the next day, Ethan Crumbley’s teacher came upon a note on Ethan’s desk which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cellphone,” McDonald continued. “The note contained the following: a drawing of a semiautomatic handgun, pointing at the words: ‘The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.’ In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet, with the following words above that bullet: ‘Blood everywhere.’ Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, ‘My life is useless.’ And to the right of that are the words, ‘The world is dead.'”

Ethan’s parents were called to a meeting about the drawings on the day of the shooting but resisted taking their son home from school that day. They also failed to check his backpack for the weapon, knowing they had given him one.

Rumors had been circulating that there would be a mass shooting at the school, which led to some students staying home from school that day. The school had been investigating the gossip but determined there was “no credible threat.”

When news broke that a shooting was underway at the school, Jennifer Crumbley texted to her son at 1:22 p.m., “Ethan, don’t do it.”

James frantically called the police to report the Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun he had purchased missing. A cable he had purchased to secure the gun was never removed from the packaging.

Ethan ended up pleading guilty to 24 charges, including terrorism and murder. In December, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jennifer Crumbley will be sentenced in April.

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