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Parents arrested in Michigan school shooting

A well-wisher kneels to pray outside Oxford High School on Wednesday. Associated Press/Photo by Paul Sancya

Parents arrested in Michigan school shooting

The parents of a teen who shot and killed four classmates at an Oxford, Mich., high school were jailed on manslaughter charges with bail set at a combined $1 million. Police arrested James and Jennifer Crumbley late Friday in Detroit. Their attorneys said the couple left town for their safety, not to evade arrest. Both of them pleaded not guilty in court on Saturday morning. Their 15-year-old son, Ethan, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes such as murder, attempted murder, and terrorism.

What did the parents do? Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald accused them of “egregious acts” including buying the gun used in the shooting as a present for their son and not responding adequately to school officials’ concerns about Ethan. On the day of the shooting, a teacher found a drawing of a gun in Ethan’s desk and the words, “the thoughts won’t stop. help me.” Police said administrators summoned the Crumbleys and told them to get counseling for their son immediately, but they resisted taking him out of school at the time. In Michigan, a minor may possess a firearm in public only if someone 18 or older directly supervises them. The manslaughter charge indicates prosecutors believe the parents contributed to a situation where there was a high chance of harm or death.

Dig deeper: Read Barton J. Gingerich’s column for WORLD Opinions addressing the causes of violence in schools.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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As I read The Sift this morning (Sat. Dec. 4th), I'm perplexed as to why your coverage of the parents being charged in the Michigan school shooting would leave the impression that their son stole the gun from them, and that they didn't know their son had a gun. You also left out the detail that when they were informed the day before of their son shopping for ammunition, the mother texted her son writing "I'm not mad. Next time don't get caught. LOL." Why would you leave out the detail that they bought their son the gun as a Christmas present, and then ignored these disturbing drawings and behaviors? Your story is clearly bent to hide the relevant facts in this case. I would like to recommend World as a news source with no agenda. But I don't think I can if you're going to leave out such important information to understanding why parents would be charged in a school shooting. Most parents in these situations have no idea what their child is planning. This is not the case here.
Robin Purvis


From what you write it seems the parents didn’t have a clue about the emotional and psychological issues the kid was dealing with. So often that is the case, sad to say. Now on deciding how much punishment the parents should get, I would hope it is not more than 1 year, though I don’t know all the details of the case to make a fair judgment.


The school administrators and the police should have searched the backpack. The provocation of the note clearly indicated likely imminent danger. One could argue that they should be charged with negligent homicide as well.


At a minimum, as the radio host Lars Larson noted, the principal could have flat out asked them "Hey Mom and Dad, look in the boy's back pack. We cannot do that but you as parents can" I agree, colossal incompetence on the part of the school admin folks who had parents, backpack and firearm all in the same office.


It is my understanding that public school officials have the federal right to search a backpack on reasonable suspicion. I would agree that it would be wise to have the parents present during such a search, if feasible; but I would advise against the parents actually performing the search, on the grounds that the social maladjustment described in this case is very often traceable to parenting. I would thus deem the parents to be unreliable extensions of the law in this extreme case.


In light of this disastrous preventable situation, impacting and damaging the lives of literally hundreds of people, besides those who lost their lives, there are parents, siblings, grandparents’ and other family, as well as friends, etc.. I hope more parents will pay attention to what is going on in the lives of their children and take their parenting responsibility way more seriously than Nathan Crumbley’s parents did.


I recently saw a book written by one of the Columbine shooter's mother. No, didn't read it or buy it. Perhaps someone from Worldmag will review it. To be honest, I think too many parents have created a ludicrous "privacy right" for their kids.