The parents of the teen accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school were arrested in a Detroit basement early Saturday morning after spending hours evading police, according to multiple reports.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were found after a search that began around noon Friday, when they were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the shooting deaths at Oxford High School.
Their son Ethan Crumbley, 15, faces numerous charges including four counts of murder as well as terrorism in connection to Tuesday’s shooting.
The Detroit Free Press and the Washington Post, among other outlets reported the elder Crumbleys were found in the basement of a building in the city’s east side in the early morning hours, after the building’s owner identified the couple’s vehicle outside.
“The owner of the building arrived and saw the car in the back parking lot, knew it didn’t belong there, went to investigate,” Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe told the Free Press.
McCabe said the couple were due to be transported to the Oakland County Jail where they would be arraigned.
Late Friday, the U.S. Marshals Service announced a reward of up to $10,000 each for information leading to the Crumbleys’ arrest.
The Marshals had joined the search for the couple along with the FBI and Michigan State Police. Details about the Crumbleys’ vehicle were released to the public, which matched the description of the vehicle the Detroit building owner found.
Detroit Police and Michigan State Police soon descended on the area with SWAT teams and several other units, according to media reports.
Earlier Friday, the couple’s lawyer Shannon Smith had insisted her clients were not on the run and had left town earlier in the week “for their own safety.”
“They are returning to the area to be arraigned,” Smith told The Associated Press.
However, Smith had told police that she was unable to contact the parents.
While announcing the charges Friday, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said James and Jennifer Crumbley committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to Ethan Crumbley to resisting his removal from school when they were summoned a few hours before the shooting.
Under Michigan law, the involuntary manslaughter charge filed against the parents can be pursued if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation where there was a high chance of harm or death.
School officials became concerned about the younger Crumbley on Monday, a day before the shooting, when a teacher saw him searching for ammunition on his phone, McDonald said.
Jennifer Crumbley was contacted and subsequently told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” according to the prosecutor.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan’s desk and took a photo. It was a drawing of a gun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” McDonald said.
There also was a drawing of a bullet, she said, with words above it: “Blood everywhere.”
Between the gun and the bullet was a person who appeared to have been shot twice and is bleeding. He also wrote, “My life is useless” and “The world is dead,” according to the prosecutor.
The school quickly had a meeting with Ethan and his parents, who were told to get him into counseling within 48 hours, McDonald said.
The Crumbleys failed to ask their son about the gun or check his backpack and “resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time,” McDonald said.
Instead, the teen returned to class and the shooting subsequently occurred.
“The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable — it’s criminal,” the prosecutor said.
Jennifer Crumbley texted her son after the shooting, saying, “Ethan, don’t do it,” McDonald said.
James Crumbley called 911 to say that a gun was missing from their home and that Ethan might be the shooter. The gun had been kept in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom, McDonald said.
Ethan accompanied his father for the gun purchase on Nov. 26 and posted photos of the firearm on social media, saying, “Just got my new beauty today,” McDonald said.
Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, Jennifer Crumbley wrote on social media that it is a “mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present,” the prosecutor said.
Asked at a news conference if the father could be charged for purchasing the gun for the son, McDonald said that would be the decision of federal authorities.
–With files from the Associated Press