Jennifer Crumbley: Michigan school mother shooting suspect pleaded to keep job shortly after shooting, boss says


“I need my job,” she wrote to Andrew Smith. “Please don’t judge me for what my son has done.”

The text took Smith by surprise given the tragic news. “I thought she would be more worried about what was going on,” he said.

He texted her a reply that didn’t address her professional status: “I can’t even begin to understand what you’re going through. I’m praying for you. I’ve asked Carolyn to send you some lawyer recommendations .”

The parents each pleaded not guilty to four counts of manslaughter for their actions – or lack thereof – that led to the shooting. They were arrested days after the shooting at a Detroit warehouse following a manhunt after they failed to appear in court for their initial arraignment.

For prosecutors, the text swap fits their general argument that the parents were negligent and careless for others. Still, Jennifer Crumbley’s defense attorney argued that she was the breadwinner of the family and was rightly concerned about money to pay for a lawyer.

The hearing comes more than two months after their son, Ethan Crumbley, opened fire with a 9mm handgun at Oxford High School, about 40 miles north of Detroit, killing four students and injuring seven. He remains jailed on terrorism charges causing death and four counts of murder. He pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys filed a notice that they planned to use an insanity defense at trial.

In court on Tuesday, Jennifer and James Crumbley sat at opposite ends of the defense table, with two attorneys in between. Both wore prison uniforms and were chained, which a lawyer said made it difficult for them to take notes during the hearing.

The preliminary inquiry is held before a judge who will determine whether the case should go to trial. The hearing is expected to last several days.

What Jennifer Crumbley texted on the day of filming

The first two witnesses in the preliminary hearing were Smith, the former boss, and Kira Pennock, owner of a horse farm the parents frequented. Both showed the court a series of messages with Jennifer Crumbley in which she discussed her actions and her emotions as the horrible day unfolded.

Pennock testified first on Tuesday and went through about 28 pages of Facebook posts with Jennifer Crumbley. Crumbley’s parents owned two horses at the barn and had a riding lesson scheduled for the day of the shooting, she said.

Jennifer Crumbley messaged Pennock to say her son was going through a tough time and sent him a digital copy of a violent drawing he made during a school assignment depicting a shooting. The cartoon also featured the phrases “thoughts won’t stop. help me”, “blood everywhere”, “my life is useless” and “the world is dead”, authorities previously said.

“I was alarmed. I thought it wasn’t normal,” Pennock said. “It didn’t really look like something a kid would do on a test at school.”

Pennock later learned there had been a shooting at a school and contacted Jennifer Crumbley to see if she was okay. Pennock testified that Crumbley responded later that day saying, “I have to sell my horses.”

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“My son ruined so many lives today,” Crumbley wrote in another post.

“That doesn’t even make me think it’s your fault,” Pennock replied.

“Wish we had some warnings (sic). Good boy they made a terrible decision,” the mum wrote.

Smith, the former boss, spoke at lunchtime on Tuesday and said she received a text from Jennifer Crumbley on November 30 telling her she had to go to her son’s school to deal with the violent cartoon.

Later that day, after returning to the office, he heard her screaming in the hallway, he testified. She said there was an active shooter at her child’s school and she had to go.

He then got a call from her saying their gun was missing.

“The gun is gone and so are the bullets,” Jennifer Crumbley emailed Smith.

“I pray that everything goes well! ” he has answered.

“Omg Andy he is going to kill himself he must be the shooter,” she wrote. “I need a lawyer in a substation with the police.”

Jennifer’s next text read, “Ethan did it.”

Smith, who did not respond to those texts, testified that his reaction was “complete shock.” Later, she sent him the text about her work status and wrote, “they’re taking my cellphone.”

Crumbley talked about horses more than his son, colleagues say

Two of Jennifer Crumbley’s former colleagues also testified Tuesday that she talked about her horses more often than she talked about her son.

Kathy Poliquin, human resources director at the company where Crumbley worked, said they never talked about medical care for her son, but “a few times she mentioned the horse was sick.”

When Crumbley told him about the loss of his job, Poliquin told him not to worry about it. A senior member of the company said she would be on administrative leave for a few weeks.

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Shannon Smith, Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney, noted that her client mostly spoke to Poliquin about work-related issues. She said Crumbley needed information from her so she could get money for a lawyer and that Jennifer was trying to get a loan, so she needed pay stubs.

Amanda Holland, the company’s administrative assistant, testified Tuesday that Crumbley also opened up about her marital issues and a temporary separation from her husband. Holland said Jennifer doesn’t talk about her son very often, but said Jennifer once voiced her concerns about Ethan being lonely after a friend left.

“She was afraid he was alone. He was her best friend. She was afraid he was alone,” Holland said.

Holland also said that Jennifer often talks about her horses and that Jennifer told him she goes to the barn “almost every day”.

Father called 911 after noticing missing gun

Det. from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Edward Wagrowski, who works in the Computer Crimes Unit, testified about social media accounts, call logs and text messages between the three Crumbleys.

On the day of the shooting, Wagrowski confirmed that Jennifer Crumbley had sent her husband a copy of their son’s violent drawing with the text “Call now EMERGENCY.”

“My God WTF,” he wrote.

After some back and forth, Jennifer Crumbley wrote, “I’m very worried.”

The parents went to the school for a meeting with officials that lasted about 13 minutes, according to surveillance video.

Parents of Michigan shooting suspect deliberately ignored signs that their son was a threat, prosecutors say

In court, prosecutor Marc Keast played a 911 call made by James Crumbley after learning of the shooting and realizing his gun was missing.

“I have a gun missing from my house. I need an officer to come,” he said. “I think my son took the gun. I don’t know if it’s him. I’m freaking out.”

Lawyers also released a voicemail from Oxford High School to Jennifer Crumbley saying her son watched balls on his phone in class. She then texted her son about the incident.

“Seriously?? Looking for balls at school??” she wrote.

“Oh yeah,” he replied. “It was in the first hour. All I did was search for a certain caliber because I was curious. It was on my phone completely harmless.”

He said there was nothing to get into trouble for and his mother agreed.

“Lol, I’m not mad, you have to learn not to get caught,” she said.

CNN’s Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.


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