Parents of teenager accused of school shooting must face trial

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The gun used in the shooting was given to Ethan Crumbley as an early Christmas present, prosecutors said.

Lawyers for the Crumbleys insisted the couple had no idea their son might be planning an attack and did not make the gun easy to find in their home.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

The counselor for a 15-year-old boy accused of killing four students at his Michigan high school says he told the teen’s parents the morning of the shooting that he thought their son was a threat to himself and needed mental health support.

“I said as soon as possible, today if possible,” Shawn Hopkins testified Thursday during preliminary questioning of Jennifer and James Crumbley. But, he testified, Jennifer Crumbley told him, “today was not an option because they had to go back to work.”

“I didn’t want Ethan to be home alone,” Hopkins added.

Ethan Crumbley is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and firearms in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School, about 50 miles north of Detroit. Besides the four students killed, six other students and a teacher were injured.

The judge presiding over the proceedings in Rochester Hills District Court will decide if there is enough evidence to sue the Crumbleys for manslaughter. They are accused of providing the teenager with the weapon used in the shooting and failing to intervene when he showed signs of mental distress at home and at school.

On the morning of the shooting, Ethan’s parents were called to school and confronted with his drawings, which included a handgun and the words, “Thoughts won’t stop.” Help me.” Authorities said the parents refused to take him home after the 13-minute meeting.

Hopkins testified that he provided Ethan’s parents with a list of mental health support resources at that meeting, and as it ended, Jennifer Crumbley asked, “Are we done?”

“I wrote Ethan a pass to go back to class,” Hopkins continued. “I said to him, ‘I just want you to know that I care about you.’ I don’t remember them saying goodbye (to Ethan).

Earlier Thursday, defense attorneys asked Oakland County Sheriff’s Detective Edward Wagrowski if he thought Jennifer and James Crumbley knew their son was planning the shooting.

Videos and texts between Ethan and his friend, Brady, in August show Ethan with a gun and inviting Brady to a shooting range, said Shannon Smith, Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney.

“Friend says things like ‘Nice. Pull the trigger now. jk, jk, jk,'” Smith told Wagrowski, who explained that “jk” is short for “just kidding.”

“Ethan responds about how his dad left the gun, but Ethan knows gun safety, so that’s not a problem. And then he said, “Now it’s time to shoot the school. JK JK JK JK,” Smith said.

“This conversation existed between Ethan and his friend, but isn’t there any kind of conversation like this between Ethan and his mother or Ethan and his father?” Smith asked, to which Wagorwski replied “no.”

But prosecutors have hinted at a disconnect between Ethan and his parents, including texts to his friend in which he talks about his “dark side”.

“In a text from April 5, 2021, Ethan wrote: ‘Now my mom thinks I’m on drugs. As if she thinks the reason I’m so angry and so sad all the time is because that I’m on drugs and she’s not worried about my sanity,” Assistant District Attorney Marc Keast said. “And then he writes, ‘They make me feel like I’m the problem.'”

A day before the shooting, the school left a voicemail for Jennifer Crumbley informing her that a teacher was concerned that Ethan had searched for ammunition online using his phone. A sheriff’s office computer crimes investigator testified on February 8 during the couple’s preliminary examination that she then asked her son in a text message if he had “at least” shown school officials a photo of the gun the parents had given Ethan as an early Christmas present.

The Crumbleys are jailed on $500,000 bail. The case against them is highly unusual as parents are rarely held criminally responsible for teenagers accused of mass school shootings.

Lawyers for the Crumbleys insisted the couple had no idea their son might be planning an attack and did not make the gun easy to find in their home.

Last month, lawyers for Ethan Crumbley filed a notice of insanity defense.

He is housed alone in a cell in the Oakland County Jail Clinic to prevent him from seeing and hearing adult inmates. Defense attorneys want him transferred to a juvenile facility, but prosecutors say he would pose a potential risk of harming the safety of other minors.

An Oakland County Circuit Court judge told a hearing for Ethan Crumbley on Tuesday that he expected to have a ruling early next week on whether the teenager would stay in adult prison or would be transferred to the county children’s village.

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Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Corey Williams, The Associated Press

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