A judge on Saturday imposed a combined $1m bond for the parents of a Michigan teen who was charged this week with the murder of four students at Oxford High School, police said while hiding in a commercial building Were.
During a hearing held on Zoom, James and Jennifer Crumbley pleaded not guilty to each of the four involuntary homicides against him.
Judge Julie Nicholson handed each parent a $500,000 bond and placed other requirements such as GPS monitoring, agreeing with prosecutors that they took a flight risk.
Detroit’s police chief, James E. White, said at a news conference that the Crumblies were caught early Saturday in a commercial building in which the artwork was kept. Later he was arrested.
The Crumbleys’ attorney, Shannon Smith, said Friday that the pair left the city at the start of the week “for their own safety” and would return to Oxford to face charges. But White seemed to be dismissive of the possibility as to what his intention was.
“It’s not a sign of hiding in the warehouse,” White said.
White said the couple were “assisted to enter the building” and that the person who helped them could also face charges.
Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said a Detroit business owner noticed a car tied to crumbles in his parking lot late Friday. McCabe said a woman ran near the vehicle when the business owner called 911. The couple was later traced and arrested.
McCabe said the parents appeared to be “upset” when caught.
“Heads down… just too upset,” he said of one.
A prosecutor filed charges of involuntary manslaughter against the Crumblies on Friday, accusing him of failing to intervene on the day of the shooting despite encountering a drawing and the chilling message “blood everywhere” found on the boy’s desk.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the Crumblies committed “serious” acts to buy a gun on Black Friday and protest Ethan Crumbley’s removal from school, when he was called hours before the shooting.
Officials had been searching for the couple since Friday. The US marshals announced a reward of up to $10,000 each to anyone who informed the arrest.
Earlier, the prosecutor offered the most accurate description ever of the events that led to the shooting at Oxford High School, about 30 miles north of Detroit.
Investigators said 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley emerged from the bathroom with a gun, shooting the students. He has been charged as an adult for murder, terrorism and other offences.
Under Michigan law, a charge of involuntary manslaughter filed against a parent may be pursued if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation where there was a high probability of harm or death. According to experts, in the US parents are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children, while most minors get guns from a parent or relative’s home.
McDonald said school officials became concerned about little Crumble on Monday, a day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him looking for ammunition on his phone.
Jennifer Crumbley was contacted and told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. According to the prosecutor, you have to learn not to get caught.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan’s desk and took a picture. It was a picture of a gun pointing to the words, “Thoughts will not stop. Help me”, McDonald said.
There was also a picture of a bullet, he said, with the words above it: “Blood everywhere.”
Between the gun and the bullet was a man who was shot twice and bleeding. According to the prosecutor, Crumbley also wrote “my life sucks” and “the world is dead”.
McDonald said the school soon held a meeting with Ethan and his parents, who were asked to provide counseling within 48 hours.
McDonald said Crumblies failed to ask his son about the gun or check his backpack and “opposed the idea of his son dropping out of school at the time”. Instead, the teen returned to class and the shooting followed.
“The notion that a parent can read those words and also know that their son had a deadly weapon they gave him is unconscionable. It is criminal,” the prosecutor said.
Jennifer Crumble wrote to her son after shooting, “Ethan, don’t do it,” McDonald said.
James Crumble calls 911 to say that a gun is missing from his house and that Ethan may be the shooter. McDonald said the gun was kept in an unlocked drawer in the parent’s bedroom.
Ethan went with his father to buy a gun on November 26, McDonald said, and posted pictures of the gun on social media, saying, “Just found my new beauty today.”
The prosecutor said that over the Thanksgiving weekend, Jennifer Crumbley wrote on social media that it was “mother and son’s day testing their new Christmas gifts”.
Asked if the father could be charged with buying a gun for the son, McDonald said it would be a decision of federal officials.
In a video message to the community on Thursday, the head of Oxford Community Schools said the high school looked like a “war zone” and would not be ready for regular use for weeks.
Superintendent Tim Throne repeatedly commended the students and staff for how they reacted to the violence. He also acknowledged the meeting of Crumbley, parents and school officials. Throne gave no details, but summarized it by saying, “No discipline was necessary.”
McDonald’s was asked about the decision to keep Crumbley at the school.
“Of course, she shouldn’t have gone back to that class… I believe it’s a universal situation. I’m not going to punish or attack, but yes,” she said.
Asked whether school officials could be charged, McDonald said: “The investigation is ongoing.”