Michigan Shooting Suspect’s Parents Could Be Charged for Not Locking Up Gun

The suspect’s father bought the gun just four days earlier, on Black Friday.
Mourners react as they visit a makeshift memorial outside of Oxford High School on December 01, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The father of the 15-year-old charged in Tuesday’s horrific school shooting in Michigan bought the gun suspected in the killings just four days prior. Now, he and the child’s mother might be charged as well, the county’s top prosecutor said Wednesday.

Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at Oxford High School in a suburb north of Detroit, was charged Wednesday as an adult with murder, attempted murder, and terrorism causing death. The suspect allegedly opened fire at the school shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday, killing at least four of his classmates and injuring a half-dozen more, as well as a teacher. 

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The alleged shooter and his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were called in to Oxford High School earlier in the day to discuss behavior the school found troubling, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Wednesday. “The content of that meeting, obviously, is part of the investigation,” Bouchard told reporters. “We did not learn of that meeting nor of the content of that meeting until after the shooting and during this investigation.”

James Crumbley bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer semiautomatic handgun police believe was used in the shooting on Black Friday, just four days before the tragedy. When police arrested the alleged shooter they found three 15-round magazine clips.

“It's my understanding, again, that this was a recent weapon purchase, that he had been shooting with it. And [the family] posted pictures of (a) target and the weapon,” Bouchard told reporters Tuesday night. 

At a press conference, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced the charges against the alleged shooter, which include one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of murder, and seven counts of attempted murder. McDonald also said she’s considering charging the accused shooter’s parents.

“We know that owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate and not allowing access to other individuals, particularly minors,” McDonald said. “We have to hold individuals accountable who don't do that.”

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Those charges could potentially implicate the parents in the death of the alleged shooter’s classmates, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told the Detroit Free Press Wednesday.

“Theoretically, if you had a case where you had a teenager who had demonstrated some sort of instability, mentally or suicidal or homicidal thoughts or actions, or anything to that extent, and in addition to that you still allowed this child to have unfettered access to a weapon,” Nessel told the Free Press, “then theoretically I don't think it would be a huge stretch to charge the parents with involuntary manslaughter under those circumstances.”

McDonald said Wednesday night that there was a “mountain of digital evidence” showing the shooting was premeditated.

“This was deliberate, this was planned well in advance, and disturbingly so,” McDonald told CNN. McDonald added that investigators have uncovered “an additional piece of evidence that hasn’t been released yet.”

“It was troubling, it was disturbing, and unfortunately, he was allowed to go back to class,” she said. 

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