Michigan parents found in apartment building; deposit set at $ 500,000 each
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) – A judge on Saturday imposed a combined $ 1 million bail on the parents of the Michigan teenager accused of killing four students at Oxford High School, hours after police said that they had been caught hiding. in a commercial building in Detroit.
James and Jennifer Crumbley have pleaded not guilty to each of the four counts of manslaughter against them in a hearing held on Zoom. Jennifer Crumbley sobbed and struggled at times to answer the judge’s questions and James Crumbley shook his head when a prosecutor said their son had full access to the weapon used in the murders.
Judge Julie Nicholson posted bail of $ 500,000 each to each of the parents and demanded GPS monitoring if they pay to be released, agreeing with prosecutors that they posed a flight risk.
Defense attorneys for the Crumbleys again argued on Saturday that they never intended to flee and planned to meet their attorneys early that morning. Lawyer Shannon Smith accused prosecutors of “choosing” facts to publicly disclose, including the charge that their teenage son had unrestricted access to handguns. Prosecutors said his father bought it for him days before the shooting.
“Our customers are just as devastated as everyone else,” Smith said, adding that the gun “was on lock.” She did not provide further details during Saturday’s hearing.
Oakland County District Attorney’s Office Karen McDonald filed manslaughter charges against the Crumbleys on Friday, accusing them of failing to intervene on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a cartoon and a scary message – “blood everywhere” – which was found on the boy’s desk. They could each face up to 15 years in prison, according to a spokesperson for the McDonald’s office.
The Crumbleys have committed “serious” acts, ranging from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to Ethan Crumbley to resisting his removal from school when they were summoned a few times. hours before the shooting, McDonald said on Friday.
Authorities had been looking for the couple since Friday afternoon. On Friday evening, the US Marshals announced a reward of up to $ 10,000 each for information leading to their arrests.
Smith, the Crumbleys’ attorney, said on Friday the couple had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety” and would return to Oxford to face charges.
During Saturday’s hearing, Smith said they were in touch by phone and text Friday night and criticized prosecutors for not communicating with her and her fellow defense lawyer, Mariell Lehman.
“Our customers were absolutely going to surrender; it was just a matter of logistics, ”she said.
But McDonald said on Saturday the couple withdrew $ 4,000 from an ATM machine on Friday morning in Rochester Hills, not far from the courthouse where they should have appeared that afternoon.
“These are not people who we can be sure will come back to court on their own,” she said.
A Detroit business owner spotted a car strapped to the Crumbleys in his parking lot on Friday evening, Oakland County Deputy Sheriff Michael McCabe said in a statement. A woman seen near the vehicle fled when the business owner called 911, McCabe said. The couple were then located and arrested by Detroit Police.
Detroit Police Chief James E. White said the couple “were helped into the building” and someone who assisted them could also face charges.
McDonald’s on Friday offered the most accurate account yet of the events leading up to the shooting at Oxford High School, about 50 kilometers north of Detroit.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, came out of a bathroom with a gun, shooting students in the hallway, investigators said. He is accused as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes.
Under Michigan law, the manslaughter charge against parents can be prosecuted if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation where there was a high risk of harm or death.
In the United States, parents are rarely charged with school shootings involving their children, even though most minors get guns from the home of a relative or loved one, experts say.
School officials became concerned about young Crumbley on Monday, a day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him looking for ammunition on his phone, McDonald said.
Jennifer Crumbley was contacted and subsequently told her son in a text message, “Lol. I am not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught, ”according to the prosecutor.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan’s desk and took a photo. It was a drawing of a gun pointed at the words, “Thoughts will not stop.” Help me, ”McDonald said.
There was also a drawing of a bullet, she said, with words above: “Blood everywhere.”
Between the gun and the bullet was a person who appeared to have received two bullets and was bleeding. He also wrote: “My life is useless” and “The world is dead,” according to the prosecutor.
The school quickly had a meeting with Ethan and his parents, who were asked to put him in for consultation within 48 hours, McDonald said.
The Crumbleys did not question their son about the gun or check his backpack and “resisted the idea of their son leaving school at this point,” McDonald said.
Instead, the teenager returned to class and the shooting ensued.
In a written statement released on Saturday, Oxford Community Schools Director Tim Throne first detailed the school’s response to Crumbley’s behavior. In the first meeting with an advisor and staff member, Crumbley said shooting sports are a pastime for his family, Throne said.
In the second meeting with guidance counselors, Crumbley claimed the designs were part of a video game design and said he wanted to pursue a career in this field, according to the letter. According to guidance counselors, Crumbley was calm and did his homework while the staff tried to reach his parents and they walked to school.
The parents did not inform the advisers that they had purchased a gun for their son recently at that meeting, Thorne said.
“Since the child had not committed any disciplinary offense before, it was decided that he would be sent back to class rather than sent home to an empty house,” he said.
Prosecutor McDonald has also previously argued that Crumbleys’ parents should have told counselors their son had access to a gun when called for a meeting over his behavior.
Jennifer Crumbley texted her son after the shooting, saying, “Ethan, don’t do it,” she said on Friday.
James Crumbley called 911 to say that a gun was missing from their home and Ethan could be the shooter. The gun had been kept in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom, McDonald said.
Ethan accompanied his father to purchase the gun on November 26 and posted pictures of the gun on social media, saying, “I just got my new beauty today,” said McDonald said.
Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Jennifer Crumbley wrote on social media that it was a “mom and son day to test out her new Christmas present,” the prosecutor said.
When asked at a press conference if the father could be accused of purchasing the gun for his son, McDonald said it would be the decision of federal authorities.
McDonald was asked about the decision to keep Crumbley in school.
“Of course, he shouldn’t have gone back to that classroom. … I believe this is a universal position. I’m not going to chastise or attack, but yes, ”she said.
When asked if school officials could potentially be charged, McDonald said, “The investigation is ongoing.”
Foody reported Chicago Associated Press reporters Ed White and Mike Householder in Detroit; David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, and John O’Connor in Springfield, Ill., Also contributed to this report.