Suspect’s parents in court; community mourns

December 4, 2021
Community gathers to pray for peace in wake of Oxford school shooting


The parents of the teen charged in the Oxford High School shooting pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges on Saturday morning, hours after community members gathered to mourn the four students fatally shot at the suburban Detroit high school.

A judge set bond at $500,000 each for James Crumbley, 45, and Jennifer Crumbley, 43, substantially more than defense attorneys asked for. Each parent was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said they bought the firearm used in the shooting for their son — Ethan Crumbley, 15 — as a Christmas gift. He is accused of fatally shooting four students and injuring seven others.

The teen was charged Wednesday as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes in what investigators described as a methodical and deliberate massacre.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered with candles at a Friday night vigil to honor the students who were killed in the shooting. The gathering began four minutes of silence for the four lives lost: Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.

Funeral services for the victims are scheduled for the coming days, starting Saturday.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter told the crowd the loss of these four students and the harm done to their classmates will always be remembered, but so would the coming together of a community.

“It may seem impossible now on this night of unspeakable pain that anything like joy can be in our future, but I have faith that there’s a peace that comes despite our limited understanding,” he said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that while the community has lived through “one of the worst weeks in Michigan history,” they have also seen some of the best in one another.

“We’ve seen the best in our kids, who are stronger than we could have ever imagined,” she said. “We’ve seen the best in our teachers, who acted quickly and saved lives. We saw the best in our Meijer employees, who helped reunite families. We saw the best in the doctors and the nurses and the faith leaders who’ve helped us get through this tough, horrific moment. We saw the best in our first responders who got there so quick. And the best in Michiganders everywhere, who have donated money to help the community.”

At its first-ever Big Ten championship game appearance Saturday, the University of Michigan football team’s jerseys will include a patch with Oxford High School’s colors — blue and gold — and four hearts for the slain students. The patch will also feature the letters “TM” and number “42,” which was once worn by Tate Myre, an Oxford football player.

On Sunday, the Detroit Lions will honor the shooting victims with an Oxford-themed helmet decal and a moment of silence before its game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Here’s what we know Saturday:

Parents charged:Michigan shooting is ‘so egregious,’ the suspect’s parents are charged. That’s rare.

Remembering the victims:Oxford shooting deaths include honor student, athletes and artist

Judge sets bond for suspect’s parents at combined $1M

Citing concerns that James and Jennifer Crumbley did not appear at a Friday arraignment, Judge Julie Nicholson of Rochester Hills District Court set bond at a combined $1 million. James and Jennifer Crumbley appeared for the arraignment via video from the Oakland County Jail.

On Friday, the U.S. Marshals Service issued “Wanted” posters and offered a reward for information leading to the Crumbleys’ arrests. They were found and arrested early Saturday in Detroit, a little more than two hours after someone saw their vehicle and called police.

The couple was found inside a commercial building and were “distressed,” Detroit Police Chief James White told reporters. They were unarmed, he added.

White said police believe someone had let the Crumbleys into the building. He said those who aided the couple could face criminal charges.

The Crumbleys’ attorneys said during the Saturday court appearance their clients were not fleeing and the missed court appearance was the result of miscommunication.

“Our clients were absolutely going to turn themselves in,” said Shannon Smith, one of the couple’s attorneys. “It was just a matter of logistics.”

Judge Julie Nicholson of Rochester Hills District Court cited concerns about “flight risk” before setting bond Saturday.

“These charges are very, very serious, there’s no question about that,” Nicholson said. “The court does have some concern about the flight risk along with the public safety given the circumstances that occurred yesterday and fact the that defendants did have to be apprehended in order to appear for purposes of arraignment.”

Oxford High School shooting:Prosecutor says unreleased evidence is ‘troubling, disturbing

#OxfordStrong:Oxford High School booster club offers black-ribbon stickers, T-shirts

Family’s attorneys dispute claims gun was left unlocked

Prosecutors said the gun used in the shooting was stored in an unlocked drawer in the Crumbley family’s home after the couple bought their son the weapon as a Christmas present.

McDonald said at a news conference Friday that Crumbley’s parents didn’t ask where the gun was when they were called to the school the day of the shooting for a disturbing drawing their son made of a firearm.

She added that their investigation revealed Ethan Crumbley researched ammunition while at school and was also allowed to return to class on the day of the shooting after the meeting with his parents.

Before Oxford shooting:Officials repeatedly told parents school was safe

Lawyers representing the Crumbley parents contested claims that the Crumbleys left the gun unlocked. Smith said it was “absolutely not true” that their son has “free access” to the gun.

The couple’s attorneys Smith and Mariell Lehman released a statement before the arraignment, reading in part: “While it’s human nature to want to find someone to blame or something to point to or something that gives us answers, the charges in this case are intended to make an example and send a message. … We intend to fight this case in the courtroom and not in the court of public opinion. We know that in the end the entire story and truth will prevail.”

Contributing: Dave Birkett, Darcie Moran, Susan Vela and Scott Talley, Detroit Free Press; Ryan W. Miller and Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.


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