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Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of a 15-year-old sophomore charged in Tuesday’s Oxford High School shooting that killed four students and wounded seven others.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, McDonald said James and Jennifer Crumbley are both facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
“It’s imperative we prevent this from happening again. No other parents or community should have to live through this nightmare,” she said.
“Gun ownership is a right and with that right comes great responsibility.”
By mid-afternoon, authorities said they were searching for the couple. Sheriff Mike Bouchard said their attorney had agreed to arrange their arrest if charges were filed but hasn’t been able to reach them.
Shannon Smith, a lawyer for the two parents said they left town for their own safety but are returning to face arraignment. Smith spoke after authorities said they were searching for Jennifer and James Crumbley.
McDonald said the gun was purchased by James Crumbley on Nov. 26 and a store employee confirmed his son was there.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were notified of warning signs the day before and the day of the shooting. McDonald said the Crumbleys ignored warning signs their child was troubled leading up to the attack. On the day before the shooting, a teacher observed the student searching for ammunition on his phone during class. Voicemails and emails sent to Jennifer Crumbley regarding the incident were not returned. McDonald reported that Jennifer Crumbley then sent her son a text, reading: “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
On the day of the shooting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were called to the school after a teacher caught the teen drawing a violent and disturbing picture with bullets, blood and a laughing emoji during class. McDonald says the parents were advised to get their son into counseling within 48 hours, but they refused to take their child out of school just hours before the attack. They left and their son went back to school.
“But that morning looking at that drawing, it’s impossible not to conclude that there was a reason to believe he was going to hurt somebody,” McDonald said.
“Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun which he had with him.”
When news of the active shooter situation at the high school was made public, Jennifer texted her son “Ethan, don’t do it.” Five minutes later, at 1:37 p.m., James Crumbley called 911 saying the gun was missing from his house and he thought his son may be the shooter.
“Further investigation revealed that the Sig Sauer 9-millimeter handgun purchased by James Crumbley was stored unlocked in a drawer in James and Jennifer’s bedroom,” McDonald said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.