Michigan School Shooting Suspect’s Parents Are Being Charged With Manslaughter

The parents of the 15-year-old boy who is accused of killing four students in a shooting spree in a Michigan school allegedly gave their son a handgun as a Christmas gift.
​The parents of the Michigan school shooting suspect
The parents of the Michigan school shooting suspect. Photo by Rochester Hills District Court

The parents of the 15-year-old boy accused of going on a shooting spree in a Michigan school, killing four and injuring seven, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

On Tuesday, a student walked out of a washroom in his Oxford, Michigan, high school, pulled out a handgun, and methodically began shooting students. Police allege the shooter was 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley who was arrested at the scene.


Crumbley has been charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder, and, despite the shooting seemingly not having a political motive, terrorism.

Now, as District Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced at a Friday afternoon press conference, his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, each face four charges of involuntary manslaughter.

“While the shooter was the individual who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there were other individuals who contributed to the events on Nov. 30 and it’s my intention to hold them accountable as well,” said McDonald.

The county’s sheriff said that less than a week before the shooting, Crumbley’s father bought the 9mm Sig Sauer gun. McDonald said an employee at the gun shop where the weapon was purchased said that Ethan was there with his father. She said social media posts indicate Crumbley received the gun from his parents as a “Christmas present.” McDonald said based on the statements from Ethan and his parents, this “clearly was his gun.” 

According to McDonald, after getting the gun, a teacher at the school saw Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone and reported it, and the school contacted his parents. McDonald said, the day before the shooting, Crumbley’s mother texted him, “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You just have to learn not to get caught.” 


On the morning of the shooting, McDonald said a teacher found a note featuring a doodle of a gun pointed at the words “the thoughts won’t stop, help me,” a person who had been shot, a bullet, and the words “blood everywhere.” She said Crumbley’s parents  were contacted again and brought in for a meeting with the school, their son, and a counselor, where they were advised to get him into counseling immediately. 

McDonald said following the meeting, the parents failed to check with their son if he had his gun on him or even to ask him where it was. 

Crumbley allegedly went on the shooting rampage later that day. After news of the shooting became public, Jennifer allegedly texted her son, “Ethan don’t do it.” 

“These charges are intended to hold those who contributed to this tragedy accountable and send a message that gun owners have a responsibility, and when they fail to uphold that responsibility there are serious and criminal consequences,” said McDonald. “We need to do better in this country. We need to say enough is enough for our kids, our teachers, and parents.” 

Parents being charged in this way is relatively unheard-of, experts said when speculations arose earlier this week. In Michigan, there’s no law that requires gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of children.

Authorities said that they have a substantial amount of evidence the shooting was premeditated, including writings and videos that the suspect made in which he talked about killing students. On the day Crumbley allegedly went on the shooting spree he and his parents were called into the school to discuss his behavior.


Oxford High School has also come under scrutiny, particularly for possibly downplaying warning signs. McDonald said, “Of course he should not have gone back to the classroom” following the meeting with his parents and school. 

In a 12-minute video, Tim Throne, the superintendent of Oxford Community Schools, confirmed the meeting happened, and defended the school against charges of negligence.

“I want you to know that there’s been a lot of talk about the student who was apprehended, that he was called up to the office and all that kind of stuff. No discipline was warranted,” Throne said. “There are no discipline records at the high school.”

McDonald said some of the children injured in the shooting “have made some progress recovering.” 

“While the physical wounds of the victims are starting to heal, the emotional wounds to the victims, students, and entire community will last for years,” she added. 

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