James and Jennifer Crumbley Arrested in Detroit

The couple was found hiding in a commercial building on the city’s east side. Detroit Police Chief James White says the department received a tip that led officers to the building.

James and Jennifer Crumbley

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The parents of the teenager who shot 11 people at Oxford High School this week have been arrested in Detroit.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were found hiding in a commercial building on the city’s east side early Saturday morning. Following their capture Saturday morning, James and Jennifer Crumbley were arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter. They appeared via video and both pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Bond was set at $500,000 each. If they post, they will need to be on a tether and surrender all other firearms.  

Attorneys for the Crumbleys argued the couple were not fleeing prosecution and were surprised by the indictment.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said that’s ludicrous. 

“I can’t imagine why they were surprised. The whole country knew that these charges were coming.” 

Mariell Lehman, Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney, maintains the couple were never a flight risk “contrary to the media reports.”

“There is no risk that they’re going to flee prosecution, they were never fleeing prosecution,” Lehman said. “I want to make that very clear with the court we had been in communication with the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement and our clients throughout [Friday].” 

The pair had not turned themselves in on Friday nor were the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department able to find the couple. That triggered a search that ended in a building on Detroit’s east side.  

Detroit Police Department
Detroit Police Department

Detroit Police Chief James White says the department received a tip that led officers to the building.

“We got a tip that they were here, or that possibly the fugitives were at this location,” says White. “The vehicle was spotted. Our officers responded in a matter of minutes.”

According to White, the couple was not armed and did not resist arrest.

“We were able to take them into custody without incident, however, they were very distressed as they were walking out,” says White.

White says an as-of-yet unnamed person helped the Crumbleys hide in the building. 

“No one else is in custody yet, but we are working on an angle on one other person who may have been assisting them,” according to White.

White says that third person will likely face charges in the days to come. 

The Crumbleys were both charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after Tuesday’s shooting when police say their son shot and killed four students and injured seven other individuals. The charges were announced in a press conference on Friday afternoon, and their lawyer had said they left town earlier in the week for their own safety and planned to turn themselves in. 

Alex McLenon/WDET
Alex McLenon/WDET

The couple failed to show up to their arraignment, resulting in an hours-long search.

McDonald says the couple gave their son easy access to a firearm and ignored warning signs their son was troubled until it was too late. 

Law enforcement officials say James Crumbley allegedly bought the murder weapon as a Christmas present for his son days before the shooting. The gun was kept in an unlocked bedroom drawer, allowing easy access to it.

The day before the shooting, prosecutors say a teacher saw the teen searching for ammunition on his phone.  The mother was contacted and then told her son in a text message:  “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

Then, McDonald says, on the day of the shooting, school officials brought the parents in to examine a note their son had written which included violent imagery and ended with the words ”My life is useless.” 

McDonald said at that time, both parents “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. James and Jennifer Crumbley resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time. Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son.” 

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.

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