- BBC News World
The prosecution charged the parents of the student named as the perpetrator of the fatal shooting at a Michigan school last Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors alleged that the parents ignored the warning signs, calling some of their previous actions “egregious.”
Ethan Crumbley is accused of using his father’s weapon, James Crumbley, in this week’s attack on the high school in Oxford, a town about 60 kilometers north of Detroit.
The student has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including terrorism.
James and Jennifer Crumbley face four charges each and the authorities look for them after they failed to show up for the court appointment in which both were to be charged.
“If they think they’re going to get away with it, they’re wrong,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told CNN.
Bouchard said that several of his detectives along with the FBI and special forces are looking for the couple.
In a joint statement texted to the BBC on Friday, attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman said the Crumbleys “they are not fleeing the security forces “Rather, they had left town the night of the shooting “for their own safety.”
However, hours after making these statements, the Crumbleys are still missing and their cell phones are turned off.
Four people died and seven were injured in Tuesday’s shooting. The victims were identified as 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 14-year-old Hana St Juliana and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
Why did they accuse the parents?
Oakland County Chief Prosecutor Karen McDonald acknowledged Friday that indicting parents for the alleged crime of a child is highly unusual.
According to his office’s investigation, the young man was with his father last Friday when Crumbley purchased the firearm believed to have been used in the shooting.
Ethan Crumbley later posted a photo of the gun on Instagram along with a message. “I just got my new beauty today”he wrote next to a heart emoji.
Just a day before the shooting, a teacher said she saw Ethan searching the internet for ammunition, prompting a meeting with school officials, McDonald explained.
After being informed of the incident, Crumbley’s mother texted her son: “Hahaha, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
And on Tuesday morning, hours before the incident, Crumbley’s parents were called to the school for an urgent meeting after teachers found a note from their son, which included various drawings of guns and bloodied people along with captions such as “thoughts won’t stop” and “blood everywhere.”
School officials told them they would have to seek counseling for their son.
Ethan Crumbley’s parents did not want their son taken from school that day, McDonald said, did not ask him if he had the gun or search the backpack he brought to school.
McDonald explained that the charges are meant to hold the Crumbleys accountable, as well as send a message about responsible gun possession.
“The idea that a parent can read those words and also Knowing that your child had access to a deadly weapon they were given is unthinkable and criminal“, he expressed.
The prosecutor previously noted that, although the gun had been legally purchased, “it appears to have been freely available” for the adolescent’s use.
According to her, the suspect removed the gun from a keyless drawer in his parents’ room and took her to school.
Neither federal nor state law requires gun owners to keep guns locked out of the reach of their children.
In a video message posted to YouTube on Thursday, the school’s superintendent, Tim Throne, said that although the teen and his parents had been called into the office, “no disciplinary action was warranted” at the time.
Throne added that the school looked like a “war zone” and wouldn’t be ready to run again for weeks.
McDonald alleged Friday that when James Crumbley learned of the shooting, “drove straight home to look for his gun” before calling authorities to say that he suspected his son was the author.
In addition, he pointed out that after the fact the mother sent a text message to her son saying: “Ethan, don’t do it”.
“I am angry as a mother. I am angry as a prosecutor. I am angry as a person who lives in this county,” the prosecutor said.
“There were a lot of things that could have been so easy to prevent.”
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