Oxford school shooting: ‘Distressed’ fugitive parents of Ethan Crumbley were found ‘hiding in warehouse’

Jennifer and James Crumbley found inside a commercial building in Detroit close to the Canadian border after skipping their arraignment

Rachel Sharp
Saturday 04 December 2021 18:19
Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect arrested after manhunt

The fugitive parents of Michigan high school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley were found hiding out in a warehouse and may have been trying to flee to Canada to escape charges in connection to Tuesday’s mass shooting, according to authorities.

Jennifer and James Crumbley were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning after authorities were tipped off about their location at a commercial building at 1111 Bellevue Street in Detroit.

Detroit Police Chief James White announced in an early morning press briefing that the “distressed” couple were taken into custody unarmed and “without incident”.

Their arrest was the outcome of an hourslong manhunt on Friday after the couple failed to show for their 4pm arraignment to face four charges each of involuntary manslaughter.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced in a press conference on Friday afternoon that she was taking the somewhat unusual step of charging the parents for their alleged parts in the massacre that left four students dead and seven other people wounded.

The couple’s son is accused of opening fire on his fellow students in a hallway of Oxford High School on Tuesday with a firearm that his parents are said to have gifted him.

Follow live updates on the Michigan school shooting

The Crumbleys missed their deadline to appear in court on Friday and couldn’t be located, prompting authorities to label them as fugitives and issue a $10,000 reward for information leading to their arrests.

The couple were last seen in public on Thursday when they appeared virtually for their son’s arraignment, where he pleaded not guilty to the 24 charges stacked against him.

They are said to have withdrawn $4,000 in cash from an ATM in Rochester Hills on Friday afternoon and switched off their mobile phones to prevent them being tracked.

Chief White announced that the couple had been located at the industrial building - which is used as an art studio - in Detroit in the early hours of Saturday.

The couple’s car - a black KIA SUV - was first found in the area in the parking lot of a local business with a witness reporting seeing a woman close to the vehicle before fleeing.

A search later uncovered the Crumbleys in the basement of the warehouse “very distressed”.

The couple were unarmed and gave themselves up to authorities, said Chief White.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are arraigned in connection to the school shooting in Oxford, Michigan

The police chief said that the fugitives “appeared to be hiding in the building” and that the situation “isn’t indicative of turning themselves in, hiding in a warehouse”.

He said he believed it was “very likely” the Crumbleys were trying to flee the country after they were apprehended less than a mile from the US’s border with Canada.

Chief White said the couple did not break into the building but that “somebody let them in”.

It is not clear who the individual is or what connection they have to the suspects but the police chief said charges could be on the cards.

Attorneys for the Crumbleys have denied the couple went on the run, insisting in Saturday’s arraignment that they are not a flight risk and that they were “absolutely going to turn themselves in” and that it was “just a matter of logistics”.

The Crumbleys are seen in booking photos following their arrests

The prosecution dismissed this claim saying: “I can’t imagine why they were surprised. The whole country knew that these charges were coming.”

The judge set their bond at $500,000 each. The Crumbleys both pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutors said the Crumbleys bought the gun used in the massacre for their son and failed to take steps to prevent the shooting, after multiple red flags of potential violence were raised.

Four students died in the mass shooting – Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17 – and one teacher and six students were injured.

Ethan Crumbley is being held without bond on 24 counts including four charges of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism. He is being charged as an adult.

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