Ethan Crumbley's Parents' Actions Regarding Gun Access Went Beyond Negligence: Prosecutor

After a 15-year-old allegedly used his father's semi-automatic gun to kill four students and injure seven others at a Michigan high school, a prosecutor said that the actions of the boy's parents went "far beyond negligence," the Associated Press reported. Ethan Crumbley's father had just purchased the firearm last week, according to investigators, and Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said that the gun "seems to have been just freely available" to the teenager.

Though Crumbley has already been charged with two dozen crimes, McDonald is also weighing criminal charges against the parents.

"We obviously are prosecuting the shooter to the fullest extent. ... There are other individuals who should be held accountable," the prosecutor said.

Crumbley's charges for the Tuesday shooting at Oxford High School include murder, attempted murder, and terrorism, the AP reported. His parents were "the only individuals in the position to know" that he had access to a weapon to commit these crimes, McDonald told WJR-AM.

School officials held a meeting with the parents to voice concerns regarding their son's behavior mere hours before the shooting took place, Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Wednesday.

Though Bouchard didn't elaborate on the concerns, he told Brianna Keilar on CNN's "New Day" that a teacher "saw some behavior that they felt was concerning, and they brought the child down to an office, had a meeting with school officials, called in the parents and ultimately it was determined that he could go back into class."

The sheriff said that a different teacher in another classroom also "saw and heard something that she felt was disturbing" from Crumbley on Monday.

"And they had a counseling session about it with school officials, and a phone call was left with the parents," Bouchard said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Alleged Michigan Shooter's Parents
After a 15-year-old allegedly used his father’s semi-automatic gun to kill four students and injure seven others at a Michigan high school, a prosecutor said that the actions of the boy’s parents went “far beyond negligence.” A well-wisher kneels to pray at a memorial on the sign of Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Jennifer and James Crumbley did not return a message left by the Associated Press.

Crumbley stayed in school Tuesday and later emerged from a bathroom with a gun, firing at students in the hallway, police said.

"I just can't get to a space right now to blame anybody who worked at that school. They were terrorized," McDonald said.

"Should there have been different decisions made?" she said when asked about keeping the teen in school. "Probably they will come to that conclusion. ... Again, I have not seen anything that would make me think that there's criminal culpability. It's a terrible, terrible tragedy."

The Oxford school district hasn't commented on the meeting with Crumbley's parents before the shooting.

There's no Michigan law that requires gun owners keep weapons locked away from children. William Swor, a defense lawyer who is not involved in the case, said charging the parents would require a "very fact-intensive investigation."

"What did they know and when did they know it?" Swor said. "What advance information did they have about all these things? Did they know anything about his attitude, things of that nature. You're talking about a very heavy burden to bring on the parents."

In 2020, the mother of an Indiana teen was placed on probation for failing to remove guns from her home after her mentally ill son threatened to kill students. He fired shots inside his school in 2018. No one was injured, but the boy killed himself.

In Texas, the parents of a student who was accused of killing 10 people at a school in 2018 have been sued over his access to guns.

Meanwhile, dozens of schools in southeastern Michigan canceled classes Thursday due to concerns about threatening messages on social media following the Oxford shooting. Some schools stayed open with a larger police presence.

Crumbley Booking Photo
Though Ethan Crumbley has already been charged with two dozen crimes related to the shooting at a Michigan high school on Tuesday, a prosecutor is also weighing criminal charges against his parents. This booking photo released by the Oakland County, Michigan, Sheriff's Office shows Crumbley, 15, who is charged as an adult with murder and terrorism for a shooting that killed four fellow students and injured more at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, authorities said Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Oakland County Sheriff's Office via AP