Pontiac, Mich. — A prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges Friday against the parents of a teen accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school, saying they failed to intervene on the day of the tragedy, while drawing and chilling Was confronted with the message – “Blood everywhere” – which was found on the boy’s desk.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said James and Jennifer Crumbley 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.
“I hope parents and everyone have humanity and to try and prevent a potential tragedy,” she said. “What I conclude is that there was absolute reason to believe that this person was dangerous and disturbing.”
By mid-afternoon, officials said they were searching for the couple. Sheriff Mike Bouchard said his attorney, Shannon Smith, had agreed to arrange for his arrest if charges were filed, but had not been able to reach him.
Smith, however, said the Crumbleys were not in the run and had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety”.
“They are returning to the area to be charged,” Smith told the Associated Press.
Earlier, prosecutors gave the most accurate description of the events that led to the shooting, three days after four students were killed and others were injured at Oxford High School, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) 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.
The couple’s court appearance was pending. It was not immediately known whether he had lawyers who could comment.
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 later 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 appeared to be bleeding. According to the prosecutor, he also wrote, “My life is worthless” 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 the Crumbleys failed to ask their son about the gun or check his backpack. The teen returned to class and the shooting followed.
“The assumption that the parents can read those words and also know that their son has a deadly weapon they gave him is unconscionable – it’s 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.”
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 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.
White reported from Detroit. Associated Press journalists Mike Householder in Detroit and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan also contributed to this report.