Detroit Police near the Detroit Impression Company, where the parents of alleged school shooter Ethan Crumbley were found hiding and taken into police custody in Detroit, December 2021. (Seth Herald / Reuters)
The parents of alleged Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley each pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges on Saturday morning when they were finally apprehended after a long manhunt.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were jailed on $500,000 cash bond each, with the judge noting that the charges were “very, very serious.”
Throughout Friday, authorities searched Michigan for the pair, who did not show up for their arraignment that day. They reportedly fled their town after their son committed a mass shooting at Oxford High School on Tuesday. After U.S. Marshals scoured the state for the couple, offering $10,000 rewards each for catching them, police located them in Detroit, where they were reportedly sheltering in an art studio to evade detection.
Noticing their car parked nearby in the vicinity, a tipster who operated a local business contacted the police after they saw a woman running from it.
Attorneys representing the Crumbley parents tried to clarify the circumstances, saying that the parents evacuated the area “for their own safety” Friday but intended to return for their arraignment.
“The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned,” the lawyers said. “They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports.”
BREAKING — Lawyers representing Ethan Crumbley’s parents say they are returning to the area to be arraigned and are not fleeing from law enforcement: pic.twitter.com/4qFH6Vjnvy
— Nancy Chen (@NancyChenNews) December 3, 2021
The Crumbley parents were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for not heeding school staff warnings to place their son in counseling after teachers noticed he drew an illustration depicting violent scenes earlier in the day. Ethan Crumbley, 15, was arrested for allegedly opening fire at the school, killing four students and injuring seven other individuals.
The parents were called into the school about the concerning drawings but chose to let their son stay in school. After they left, Ethan Crumbley pulled out his weapon, a 9 m.m. Sig Sauer pistol, which his father allegedly bought from a local firearms store on Black Friday. The prosecutor claimed Saturday that the mother texted her son, “Ethan, ‘Don’t do it,” when the active shooter announcement went live. She also said the father went home to look for the firearm, which had been “locked” before the boy got into possession of it and took it to school.
The judge also said Saturday that “the court does have concerns about the flight risk” of the parents, given their escape from town and bunkering in Detroit after the shooting, despite the attorneys assurances that they would turn themselves in.
Detroit police Chief James White told the press that the parents, both unarmed, did not show resistance when taken into custody although they appeared “distressed” during their arrest. White added that a third person of interest may face charges for allowing the duo to enter and hide from law enforcement in the Detroit building. The relationship between the parents and the third person has not yet been determined.
The police chief applauded his team and those who cooperated in the aftermath of the tragic incident.
“I could not be prouder,” White said. “Tonight, again, our community came through for us.”
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