Missed warning signs detailed in Michigan school shooting: NPR


Jennifer and James Crumbley (top) appeared in court via Zoom on Friday, where their request for a lower bail amount was denied by a judge.

Carlos Osorio/AP

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Carlos Osorio/AP

Jennifer and James Crumbley (top) appeared in court via Zoom on Friday, where their request for a lower bail amount was denied by a judge.

Carlos Osorio/AP

In the months leading up to the high school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, 15-year-old suspect Ethan Crumbley texted his mother to say he had seen demons and ghosts in the family home , filmed himself torturing animals and obsessing over guns and Nazi propaganda, prosecutors say. .

The new details about the evidence gathered by prosecutors were revealed Friday during a bail hearing for Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley. Both face four counts of manslaughter, one for each of the four students killed in the November 30, 2021 shooting.

The parents are being held on bail of $500,000 each. Defense attorneys representing the couple requested that the bail amount be lowered to $100,000. Judge Julie Nicholson denied that request on Friday.

“Evidence shows a 15-year-old who repeatedly informed his parents that he was hallucinating. The same 15-year-old continually exhibited disturbing tendencies, all of which could be found by his parents. He exhibited genuine passion in life, and it was firearms,” said prosecutor Marc Keast, who urged the judge to dismiss the defense request.

The Crumbleys’ son, Ethan, is charged with terrorism and murder in the shooting at his high school in Oxford, Michigan. Several warnings were issued about the 15-year-old the day before and the morning of the shooting, including by a teacher who discovered disturbing drawings and messages on a math worksheet.

On the morning of November 30, a school guidance counselor summoned James and Jennifer Crumbley to a meeting, where they were told to seek counseling for their son within 48 hours or the school would call City Protective Services. childhood, according to the authorities.

At that meeting, the Crumbleys refused a request to drive their son home from school and did not inform school authorities that they had recently purchased a gun for him, according to court records.

About two hours later, Ethan Crumbley began his shooting, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors justified the unusual charges against Crumbley’s parents by saying they purchased the handgun used in the shooting as a Christmas present for their son and failed to properly secure it, despite “many warning signs” about their son’s mental state.

Prosecutors say Ethan Crumbley started texting his mother about the visions last March

During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors spoke in great detail about what those warning signs entailed, including visions, depression and animal torture.

“As early as March 2021, Ethan Crumbley was texting his mother, Jennifer, on more than one occasion – and always when he was home alone – that he thought there was a demon, a ghost or something. another one inside the house,” Keast says. “These were not one-time messages.”

Additionally, according to prosecutors, the young Crumbley was obsessed with weapons. A notebook recovered from Crumbley’s home is filled with images of firearms, prosecutors said. He had also shown an interest in Nazi propaganda, including buying a Nazi coin on the internet and drawing Nazi symbols.

Ethan Crumbley had practiced making Molotov cocktails at home and “scanned school shootings and guns so often on his phone that he received spam about his mental well-being and guns. fire,” the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors had previously described animal torture – including beheading a bird and storing the head in a jar in his bedroom – in a filing in court end December. “He did this in the family home. He filmed himself doing it,” Keast said.

Lawyers for Crumbley’s parents say they were unaware of the animal torture

Lawyers representing Crumbley’s parents say their son hid his most concerning behaviors.

“His parents were totally unaware that Ethan had engaged in any kind of torture behavior,” said Mariell Lehman, an attorney representing both Crumpley parents.

Prosecutors also described in more detail the Crumbleys’ actions in the hours and days following the school shooting, which culminated in their late-night arrest in a converted warehouse near downtown Detroit in early december.

The Crumbleys purchased several new cellphones on the day of the shooting, prosecutors said, and withdrew thousands of dollars in cash, including $3,000 from their son’s bank account, leaving a balance of less than a dollar. They began making arrangements to sell horses and deliberately positioned their vehicles to conceal license plates, Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald said.

“These are not the actions of individuals who wanted to surrender,” McDonald said. “They pose a serious flight risk.”

The Crumbleys eldest’s next court appearance is a preliminary examination scheduled for February 8.

Ethan Crumbley also made a separate court appearance on Friday. He waived his right to a preliminary review, a decision not uncommon in high-profile criminal cases.

He faces 24 charges, including four counts of murder and one terrorism charge. A trial date has not yet been set.


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