Ethan Crumbley: Everything we know about the Michigan school shooting suspect

Prosecutors say evidence shows the 15-year-old accused gunman planned the massacre at Oxford High School in advance

Joe Sommerlad,Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 14 December 2021 14:59
Ethan Crumbley lawyers say he should be held at juvenile jail for his ‘mental wellbeing’

A 15-year-old sophomore student is behind bars accused of carrying out the deadliest school shooting since 2018 after he allegedly shot dead four students and wounded seven other people at a suburban high school in Michigan on 30 November.

Ethan Crumbley is accused of planning the mass shooting at Oxford High School in advance before carrying it out using a semi-automatic 9mm Sig Sauer handgun bought for him by his parents on Black Friday as an early Christmas present.

The suspected shooter allegedly exited a bathroom in the high school at approximately 12.51pm and began firing at his fellow students in the hallway of the school.

Chilling footage shows him firing off between 15 and 20 shots from multiple magazines as he stalks the school’s halls.

Investigators said he was aiming towards “the head and chest” at close range, showing a clear “intent to kill people”.

He surrendered to police at the scene within five minutes of the first 911 call being received and was taken into custody and the handgun seized.

Two weeks on, a motive for the attack is yet to be established.

Mr Crumbley was charged as an adult with one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said the charges stemmed from “undeniable” evidence that the attack was premeditated.

Prosecutors said that chilling CCTV footage from the school showed Mr Crumbley “methodically and deliberately” firing on his fellow students.

He has pleaded not guilty and, if convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

The teenager made his second court appearance on 13 December for a probable cause hearing which was adjourned while the discovery of evidence is ongoing.

A new court date was set for 7 January.

Mr Crumbley’s attorneys requested that he be moved to a juvenile facility so that he can have access to schooling but the request was denied after prosecutors argued his alleged crime shows he poses a threat to other minors.

He is being held at Oakland County Jail without bond - the same adult facility now also housing his parents James and Jennifer Crumbley who were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly buying their son the firearm used and ignoring multiple warning signs. They each pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Several details have emerged about the 15-year-old’s behaviour in the lead-up to the mass shooting, with disturbing social media posts, journal entries, drawings and online searches revealed by prosecutors during the investigation.

Mr Crumbley had boasted on his Instagram page about a gun that his father had purchased on Black Friday.

Just hours before the shooting, he wrote on Instagram: “Now I become death - destroyer of worlds - see you tomorrow Oxford.”

His journal also reportedly contains notes about his fantasies of committing violence toward his fellow students in his journal.

Ethan Crumbley at his probable cause conference on 13 December

Investigators said that a search of the teen’s home had turned up “two separate videos recovered from Ethan’s cellphone made by him the night before the incident, wherein he talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School”.

Then, the day before the shooting, his parents were contacted by the school after he was caught searching for ammunition during class.

School officials said the incident was escalated to school counsellors who were told by the teenager that he had gone to a shooting range with his mother Jennifer Crumbley that weekend.

His mother’s Instagram showed a target practice with the caption “mother and son time”.

She is said to have ignored the school’s attempts to reach her about the incident but reportedly texted her son at the time: “LOL I’m not made at you, you have to learn not to get caught.”

The next day - the morning of the shooting - another teacher then found a note on Mr Crumbley’s desk with a drawing of a handgun, a bullet and a shooting victim, along with the words: “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.”

The Crumbleys were called into the school for a meeting with their son and school counsellors.

Tim Throne, the superintendent of Oxford Community Schools, said in a letter to parents that Mr Crumbley had claimed his drawing was for a video game he was designing and that counsellors believed he did not pose a threat to himself or others.

Mr Throne said that school officials requested the Crumbleys take their son out of school but the parents refused. They were told to get their son counselling within 48 hours.

School officials did not carry out a search of his backpack or locker and he was allowed to return to class.

Prosecutors said the teen may have had the handgun in his backpack during the meeting.

Hours later, he allegedly opened fire inside the school.

As news of the shooting spread, Jennifer Crumbley reportedly texted her son: “Ethan, don’t do it.”

The suspect is now estranged from his parents who have hired two high-powered attorneys to represent themselves but have declined to pay for their son’s legal bills.

Instead, the 15-year-old has been appointed a public defender because he cannot afford to pay for his own defence.

He was also appointed a guardian last week by the court.

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