Authorities searching for parents of Michigan shooting suspect after manslaughter charges

There are a number of issues officials are considering as they decide
whether Ethan Crumbley's...
There are a number of issues officials are considering as they decide whether Ethan Crumbley's parents will be charged.
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 3:53 PM CST
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NBC News - Authorities are searching for the parents of a teenager accused of killing four people in a Michigan high school shooting this week, the sheriff’s office confirmed Friday.

The news came shortly after Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced that James and Jennifer Crumbley had been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to the events on Nov. 30, and it’s my intent to hold them accountable as well,” McDonald said at a news conference.

She added, “Gun ownership is a right, and with that right comes great responsibility.”

An attorney for the parents had contacted authorities Friday morning to say that James and Jennifer Crumbley would turn themselves in if they were charged, sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

On Friday afternoon after officials said they were searching for the pair, their lawyers said the couple had not fled but had left town the night after the shooting “for their own safety” and were in the process of returning for arraignment.

“They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports,” lawyers Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman said in a statement.

Earlier in the day Bouchard described resources on the case.

“We have our Fugitive Apprehension Team, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service and others actively looking for them and have every expectation we’ll have them in custody soon,” Bouchard said. “The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges. They cannot run from their part in this tragedy.”

The couple may be driving a black 2021 Kia Seltos SUV with a Michigan license plate number, authorities said.

When asked on MSNBC where the parents may be, Bouchard said “that’s a work in progress.” He then criticized prosecution for not giving the department a heads up that the charges would be filed.

“We were informed, actually, by the media that a charging decision had been made,” he said.

When asked if that was frustrating, the sheriff responded: “That’s an understatement.”

James Crumbley purchased the weapon days before the shooting, according to the sheriff. McDonald told reporters that James Crumbley brought the suspect, Ethan Crumbley, with him to the store.

Under Michigan law, an involuntary manslaughter charge can be pursued if prosecutors believe someone contributed to a situation in which harm or death was high. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism, in the shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School in Oakland County, roughly 30 miles north of Detroit.

In an appearance on NBC News NOW, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Thursday that it is “clearly a crime” if someone gives a firearm to a minor.

In a separate appearance on MSNBC, the top prosecutor in Oakland County said Thursday that the teen appeared to have “free access” to the gun.

“If you own a weapon or possess a weapon and you knowingly allow someone to have free access to it, who you have reason to believe might use it to injure somebody, that is willful and it’s gross negligence, and there are lots of criminal consequences for that,” McDonald previously said.

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