The parents of a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at a Michigan high school were caught early Saturday, several hours after a prosecutor brought them negligent homicide charges, officials said.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested in a Detroit commercial building that housed artwork, Detroit Police Chief James E. White said at a news conference. White said the couple “received assistance” and that a person who helped them could also be charged.
A Detroit business owner discovered a car tied to the Crumbleys in his parking lot late Friday, Oakland County’s undersheriff Michael McCabe said in a statement. A woman seen near the vehicle ran away when the business owner called 911, McCabe said. The couple were later located and arrested by Detroit police.
A prosecutor on Friday charged the Crumbleys with negligent manslaughter and accused them of failing to intervene on the day of the tragedy, despite being confronted with a haunting and terrifying news – “blood everywhere” – found on the boy’s desk.
The Crumbleys committed “outrageous” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday, to providing Ethan Crumbley with a gun, to resisting his truancy when summoned hours before the shooting, said Oakland County Attorney Karen MC Donald.
Authorities had been looking for the couple since Friday afternoon. Late Friday, U.S. marshals announced a reward of up to $ 10,000 each for clues leading to their arrest.
Crumbleys lawyer Shannon Smith said the couple left town “for their own safety” earlier this week. Smith told the Associated Press that they would be returning to Oxford to be charged.
However, White said the Crumbleys “appeared to be hiding in the building where they were found”. He added that the parents were “concerned” when they were arrested.
“Head down … just very upset,” he said of one of the parents.
The pair were expected to be checked into the Oakland County Jail, McCabe said.
Previously, the prosecutor had submitted the most detailed report yet of the events that led to the shooting at Oxford High School, about 50 kilometers north of Detroit.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, came out of a bathroom with a gun and shot students in the hallway, investigators said. He is charged with murder, terrorism and other crimes as an adult.
Under Michigan law, a parent’s negligent homicide charge may be prosecuted if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation where there was a high risk of harm or death.
Parents in the US are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children, although experts say most minors receive guns from a parent or relative’s home.
School officials worried about the younger Crumbley on Monday, the day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him looking for ammunition on his phone, McDonald said.
Jennifer Crumbley was contacted and then texted her son to say, “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught, ”said the prosecutor.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan’s desk and took a picture. It was a drawing of a gun aimed at the words, “Thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” said McDonald.
There was also a drawing of a sphere, she said, with the words, “Blood everywhere.”
Between the gun and the bullet was a person who was apparently shot twice and is bleeding. He also wrote: “My life is useless” and “The world is dead,” according to prosecutors.
The school quickly had a meeting with Ethan and his parents, who were told to get him into counseling within 48 hours, McDonald said.
The Crumbleys failed to ask their son about the gun or check his backpack, and “resisted the idea of their son dropping out of school at the time,” McDonald said.
Instead, the teenager returned to class and the shooting took place afterwards.
“The idea that a parent could read these words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unscrupulous – it is criminal,” said the prosecutor.
Jennifer Crumbley texted her son after the shooting and said, “Ethan, don’t do it,” McDonald said.
James Crumbley called 911 to say there was a gun missing in their home and that Ethan could be the shooter. The gun was kept in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom, McDonald said.
Ethan went with his father to buy a gun on November 26th and posted photos of the gun on social media with the words, “I got my new beauty today,” said McDonald.
Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, Jennifer Crumbley wrote on social media that it was “a mother and son’s day testing their new Christmas present,” the prosecutor said.
Asked at a press conference whether the father could be charged with buying the gun for the son, McDonald said it was the decision of federal authorities.
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 complimented students and staff for responding to the violence.
He also paid tribute to the meeting of Crumbley, the parents and school officials. Throne did not go into details, but summarized it by saying, “No discipline was required.”
McDonald was asked about the decision to keep Crumbley at school.
“Of course he shouldn’t have returned to this classroom. … I think this is a universal position. I’m not going to chastise or attack, but yes, ”she said.
When asked if school officials could possibly be charged, McDonald said, “The investigation is ongoing.”