Parents of Michigan shooter charged with manslaughter

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Authorities have offered a $10,000 (£7,500) reward for information leading to the arrest of the parents of a teen accused of a school shooting in Michigan that killed four people.

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Ethan Crumble, 15, is accused of setting fire to Oxford High School shortly before 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 30 November, killing four students and injuring seven others, including a teacher.

James and Jennifer Crumbley have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for buying a weapon as a Christmas gift to their son and ignoring warning signs as of the day of the shooting.

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James, left, and Jennifer Crumbley

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James, left, and Jennifer Crumbley

, AP

“The parent was the only person in a position to know access to the weapon,” said Oakland Country Prosecutor Karen McDonald, adding that the gun was “just freely available to that person”.

She said the parents’ actions “went far beyond recklessness”.

A fugitive warrant was issued for the couple for failing to appear in court on Friday. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office also posted a B on the lookout notice for him on Facebook.

“If they think they’re going to walk away, they’re not,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told CNN.

Police Handouts of James and Jennifer Crumbley

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Police Handouts of James and Jennifer Crumbley

, via Reuters

In a statement, lawyers for the couple said they were returning for their statement and were “not running away from law enforcement”.

But the video attack at a scheduled 4.30 pm did not go as planned.

The US Marshals Service said its runaway apprehension team from Detroit was working with the sheriff’s office on the search.

Prosecutors said that four days before the shooting, Ethan accompanied his father to a gun store, where James Crumbley bought a semi-automatic handgun.

Later that day, Ethan posted pictures of the gun on social media, writing “just found my new beauty today” and adding a heart emoji.

The next day, their mother posted that they were both “testing their new Christmas presents,” said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

Michigan law prohibits people under the age of 18 from buying or possessing a firearm, except in limited circumstances such as hunting with a license and a supervising adult.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult of murder and terrorism

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Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult of murder and terrorism

, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office/

McDonald’s told a news conference that the allegations were intended to “send a message: gun owners have a responsibility.”

One expert asked whether prosecutors could prove the parents bought the gun for their son.

Eric Reuben, a law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said it would be easier for prosecutors to win if they could prove that the parents took some direct action that led to the deaths — for example, buying a gun.

If they simply failed to act, he said, prosecutors would have to show that the parents had some legal duty to the victims.

Prosecutors described several chilling warning signs in the days leading up to the shooting at Oxford High School, about 40 miles (60 km) north of Detroit.

One day, a teacher noticed Ethan Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone during class and alerted school officials, who left a message for his mother who did not return.

In a text message to her son, Jennifer Crumbley wrote: “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

On the morning of the shooting, a teacher discovered a portrait that Ethan Crumbley called depicting a handgun, a bullet, and a bleeding figure next to the words “Blood Everywhere” and “The Thoughts Won’t Stop – Help Me”. It was, McDonald’s said.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are called to the school, where they are instructed to seek Ethan counseling within 48 hours.

He said he “resisted” the idea of ​​taking his son home from school and did not search his bag or ask him about the gun.

McDonald said, “The assumption that the parents can read those words and also know that their son had a lethal weapon they gave him, and I think that is criminal.”

Ethan Crumbley returned to class and later walked out of the bathroom with a gun, killing four students and injuring seven others, officials said.

When news broke of an active shooter at the school, Jennifer Crumble sent Ethan a text message, urging “don’t do it,” according to prosecutors.

McDonald said that in the meantime, James Crumbley drove straight home to check if the gun was missing and that his son may have been the shooter, before calling the police. The gun was kept in an unlocked drawer in the parent’s bedroom.

Unlike some states, Michigan does not legally require gun owners to keep their firearms safe from children.

Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult even though he is under the age of 18.

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