Parents of Oxford School Shooter Held Accountable

Photo posted by @TeamTrace on Twitter

In America, it seems that we are constantly hearing about a new school shooting that has taken the lives of innocent children. So, when news broke about the Oxford High School shooting, our country mourned, but ultimately was unsurprised. However, surprise did come when Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald charged the shooter, Ethan Crumbley’s, parents with involuntary manslaughter — a charge that holds the potential to change how we, as a country, view gun violence and the factors that drive it.

What Happened?

On Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 12:51 p.m., 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley exited a bathroom at Oxford High School with a 9 MM Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol and began firing at fellow classmates. Four students were killed: Hana St. Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17 and Justin Shilling, 17. Crumbley is currently facing 24 charges as an adult, including one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Parental Involvement

While James and Jennifer Crumbley were not directly involved in the events on Nov. 30, their negligence played a significant role in their son’s actions.

Photo posted by @USAToday on Twitter

On Nov. 26, this year’s Black Friday, James Crumbley took his son to purchase a new pistol — what would end up being his murder weapon. The following day, Jennifer Crumbley posted on social media about this purchase, saying, “Mom and son day, testing out his new X-mas present.”

That Monday, Nov. 29, one of Crumbley’s teachers noticed him searching for ammunition on his cell phone. She reported this behavior to her higher-ups, who consequently contacted his mother, voicing their concern. Jennifer Crumbley responded to this information with a text to her son, in which she writes, “LOL. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

The morning of the shooting, Tuesday, Nov. 30, a different teacher found a note of Crumbley’s that featured disturbing content. The note contained drawings of a gun, a bullet and a person who appears to have been shot. The writing on the note read, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” “Blood everywhere,” “My life is useless,” and “The world is dead. ” Upon seeing this note, school officials called the Crumbleys in for a meeting to discuss their son’s disturbed behavior over the last couple of days. Despite strong urges from the school for Crumbley to be removed from the building and put into counseling, his parents insisted that he return to class. Both Crumbley’s parents and school officials allowed him to stay in school that day, failing to check his backpack for weapons. Mere hours later, Crumbley began firing live ammunition at fellow students.

Upon hearing news of the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley sent a text to her son, reading, “Ethan, don’t do it.” Shortly after, James Crumbley reported to authorities that a gun was missing from his household and he believed his son to be the shooter.

The Charges

On Friday, Dec. 3, prosecutor McDonald announced that James and Jennifer Crumbley were going to be charged with involuntary manslaughter for their enablement of their son’s malicious acts.

Upon hearing about the charges against them, the Crumbleys fled. After a day of searching, authorities arrested the couple in a commercial building in Detroit.

The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable — it’s criminal.

Karen McDonald
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