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Parents of suspected Michigan high school shooter charged in mass shooting; prosecutor says they 'contributed to this tragedy'
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Parents of suspected Michigan high school shooter charged in mass shooting; prosecutor says they 'contributed to this tragedy'

The parents of a teen accused of going on a killing rampage at a Michigan high school were charged on Friday. The prosecutor said the parents knew of their son's disturbing warning signs. The prosecutor claimed the parents committed "egregious" mistakes, which ultimately enabled the teen to purportedly murder four Oxford High School students.

Parents Jennifer and James Crumbley were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

"Under Michigan law, an involuntary manslaughter charge can be pursued if prosecutors believe someone contributed to a situation where harm or death was high," NBC News reported.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said the parents committed "egregious" acts and their actions went "far beyond negligence."

According to WMAQ-TV, "McDonald said the parents 'were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons.' She said the gun used in the shootings 'seems to have been just freely available to that individual.'"

During a Friday press conference, McDonald said, "These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send the message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences."

On Nov. 26, James Crumbley allegedly purchased a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 – the firearm reportedly used in the shooting. A store employee at the gun store in Oxford confirmed to authorities that the shooter was with his father at the time of the purchase, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The prosecutor said on the same day that the gun was purchased, the 15-year-old posted photos of the handgun with the caption: "Just got my new beauty today." The next day, Jennifer Crumbley posted on social media with the caption: "Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present."

The day before the shooting, a teacher at Oxford High School noticed the teen searching for ammunition on his cell phone during class. She reported that information to school officials, according to McDonald. School officials attempted to contact the boy's mother over the phone and by email.

McDonald said Jennifer Crumbley joked about him getting caught and texted her son, "LOL, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught."

The night before the shooting, the suspect made a video "wherein he talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School," according to Lt. Tim Willis of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

On the day of the shooting, McDonald said the teen's teacher noticed him doodling a gun pointing at the words: "The thoughts won't stop, help me." He also purportedly drew a bullet and a person who appeared to be shot with the words "blood everywhere." The high school sophomore also wrote, "My life is useless," and "The world is dead."

The boy was taken out of the classroom and brought to an office in the school. The boy's parents were summoned to the school and met with school officials around 10 a.m., according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

During the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were allegedly shown the drawing, which had been altered by that time. School administrators told the parents to get their son into counseling with 48 hours, according to the prosecutor.

"Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask if their son had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him," McDonald said. "The notion that a parent could read those words and also know their son had access to a deadly weapon, that they gave him, is unconscionable and I think it's criminal."

The parents allegedly left the school without their son — who returned to class.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Marc Keast said surveillance cameras show the suspect entering a school bathroom "just before 12:51 p.m." with a backpack.

"A minute or two later, he exited the same bathroom without the backpack, but with a gun in hand," Keast said. "At that point, he methodically and deliberately walked down a hallway, aiming the firearm at students and firing."

McDonald said that once news broke that there was an active shooter at Oxford High School, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son at 1:22 p.m.: "Don't do it."

At 1:37 p.m., James Crumbley reportedly called 911 to report that his gun was missing from his house, and he believed that his son could be the school shooter.

McDonald said the gun had been stored in an unlocked drawer in the parents' bedroom.

Lt. Willis said a journal was recovered from the suspect's backpack "detailing his desire to shoot up a school to include murdering students."

The teen is accused of killing four students — Hana St. Juliana (14), Tate Myre (16), Madisyn Baldwin (17), and Justin Shilling (17). Seven others were injured during the mass shooting – three were in stable condition at hospitals at the time of this article.

The suspect was charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, gun crimes, and terrorism. He could face up to life in prison, if convicted.

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