James Crumbley is up next as 2nd parent to stand trial in Michigan school shooting

James Crumbley is up next as 2nd parent to stand trial in Michigan school shooting

PONTIAC, MI — A man who bought a gun with his son four days before the Michigan school shooting is on trial. He is accused of failing to take steps that could have prevented the teen from killing four students and injuring others.

No one is saying James Crumbley knew what Ethan Crumbley planned to do at Oxford High School on November 30, 2021. But prosecutors claim his “gross negligence” was a cause of the violence.


It’s the second act for prosecutors: Jennifer Crumbley was convicted of the same involuntary manslaughter charge a month ago. They are the first American parents charged with criminal responsibility for a mass school shooting committed by a child.

Jury selection in James Crumbley’s case begins Tuesday in Oakland County, north of Detroit.

“I don’t think this is an exaggeration,” Rick Convertino, a Detroit-area attorney and former federal prosecutor, said of the lawsuits.

“I think the prosecutor did a great job of bringing the links of the chain together” during Jennifer Crumbley’s case, Convertino said. “What led to the horrific shootings could easily have been prevented with simple and ordinary care.”

James Crumbley, accompanied by 15-year-old Ethan, purchased a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021. The boy called it his ‘new beauty’ on social media. His mother described the gun, also on social media, as a Christmas present and took Ethan to a shooting range.

READ ALSO  Married At First Sight's Jessika Power shocks fans after stepping out with a 'baby bump' following split from boyfriend Connor Thompson

A few days later, the parents went to Oxford High to discuss a violent drawing on Ethan Crumbley’s maths assignment, which was accompanied by anguished sentences: “The thoughts don’t stop.” Help me. The world is dead. My life is useless.” There was a gun on the paper that looked like the Sig Sauer.

The parents “chose silence” instead of disclosing the gun purchase and a visit to the shooting range, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Keast said in a court filing.

The Crumbleys did not take Ethan home, nor did the school require him to. But the parents left with a list of mental health services in the region. School counselor Shawn Hopkins said Jennifer Crumbley cited work as a reason for keeping her son in the classroom.

“I don’t remember James talking about that subject,” he testified.

No one – the parents or school staff – checked the boy’s backpack for a gun, and the shooting occurred that afternoon.

James Crumbley called 911 and said frantically, “I think my son took the gun.”

READ ALSO  Brad Banducci’s successful career and net worth in the limelight

Convertino predicts the call will be “extraordinary, powerful evidence” for prosecutors, who will argue that the father failed to safely store the gun and ammunition.

Defense attorneys, however, said the parents could not have anticipated a mass shooting.

The case “raises the question of when a parent will cross the subjective line of ‘good parenting’ and find themselves criminally liable for a teen’s independent actions,” Mariell Lehman and Shannon Smith said in a court filing.

Ethan, now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and terrorism. When he pleaded guilty, he told a judge that his money had been used to buy the gun and that the gun was not locked at home.

Jennifer Crumbley will return to court for her sentence on April 9. Her minimum prison sentence could be up to ten years.

Both parents have been in prison for more than two years. They were unable to post bail of $500,000 each after their arrest at a friend’s art studio in Detroit. They insisted they were not trying to flee.


Follow Ed White on X, formerly Twitter: @edwritez