Michigan high school shooter’s parents plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges

James and Jennifer Crumbley plead not guilty hours after they were found hiding in a Detroit warehouse

The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the suspect in a suburban high school mass shooting in Michigan, on Saturday pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges they face in connection to the massacre.

James and Jennifer Crumbley entered the pleas after being captured in the morning following an hours-long search that began Friday afternoon. The two appeared for court in a hearing held on Zoom.

Police found the Crumbleys hiding in an empty warehouse after receiving a tip from someone who saw their car. The two failed to show up to court on Friday after being charged with four felony counts of involuntary manslaughter. A judge has imposed a combined $1 million bond, according to Associated Press.

Ethan Crumbley, their 15-year-old son, on Tuesday led a rampage at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, about 30 miles north of Detroit, killing four and wounding seven. He has been charged as an adult.

Prosecutors say Crumbley used his father’s gun to open fire at Oxford High School. In Michigan, parents of assailants can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if authorities believe they contributed to a situation that could cause harm or death.

Each count against the parents has a maximum sentence of 15 years.

This combo from photos provided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office shows, from left, James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley. (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The Crumbleys appeared emotional throughout their virtual arraignment before Oakland County District Court Judge Julie Nicholson on Saturday morning.

Prosecutors are alleging that the parents committed “egregious” acts by purchasing a firearm on Black Friday and failing to secure the gun or intervene when their son showed concerning behavior.

On Tuesday, Ethan Crumbley used the gun to go on a murderous shooting spree at his high school. 

He is being charged with two dozen, felonies including four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and one count of terrorism causing death.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald said that after she made the rare decision to charge the parents for their involvement in the massacre, they withdrew $4,000 from the ATM and disappeared — launching a massive manhunt Friday afternoon.

Ethan Crumbley - theGrio.com
This booking photo released by the Oakland County, Mich., Sheriff’s Office shows Ethan Crumbley, 15, who is charged as an adult with murder and terrorism for a shooting that killed four fellow students and injured more at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., authorities said Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The U.S. marshalls joined local, county, and state officials in the search for the Crumbleys following McDonald’s announcement on Friday afternoon.

On Friday, CNN host Don Lemon grilled Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard about why the fugitive parents had not been in custody.

Bouchard insisted that the department had no prior notice that the prosecutor was bringing charges against the parents, and instead found out from the media.

“Sheriff, I understand that. We’re trying to solve this for the victims,” said Lemon, who still pressed the sheriff about why the parents weren’t found.

“Hey, don’t tell me we’re solving it for the victims. Because I live here and we breathe this,” responded Bouchard, who got visibly upset. 

By late Friday evening, U.S. Marshals offered a reward of up to $10,000 for any information on the Crumbleys leading to their arrests.

However, defense attorneys for the Crumbleys say that the pair was not evading the law and had planned to turn themselves in.

“Last night and throughout the day, we were in contact with our clients,” Shannon Smith, their attorney, said. “They were scared, they were terrified, they were not at home, they were figuring out what to do, getting finances in order.” 

Smith also contends that the prosecution failed to inform her of the imminent charges.

“It was just a matter of logistics and all the prosecution had to do was communicate with me about it, and we tried multiple times,” she added.

They are due back in court on December 14.

Have you subscribed to the Grio podcasts, ‘Dear Culture’ or Acting Up? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!