Michigan shooting suspect’s father mouths ‘I love you’ to wife in court

Judge agrees to delay key hearing to determine if Ethan Crumbley's parents will face trial

The father of a Michigan teenager charged with fatally shooting four pupils at Oxford High School mouthed “I love you” to his wife on Tuesday as the couple appeared in court to face involuntary manslaughter charges.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of giving 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley access to a gun and failing to intervene when they were confronted with his disturbing drawings a few hours before the November 30 shooting.

Judge Julie Nicholson granted a request by prosecutors and defence lawyers to postpone until February 8 a hearing that will determine whether the elder Crumbleys will face trial.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she needs more time to collect evidence from investigators and share it with the defence.

“We have police narratives, we have digital evidence, we have video evidence,” Ms McDonald later told reporters.

“We have viewed a lot of it, certainly enough to establish charges here. But there’s also more investigation that needs to be done.”

In court, the Crumbleys sat on the outside of their two lawyers. But when the lawyers rose to speak privately to the judge, Mr Crumbley mouthed “I love you” to his wife.

The parents were arrested on December 4 hiding in a commercial building in Detroit, hours after charges were announced. They remain in jail, unable to pay bonds of $500,000, though defence lawyer Shannon Smith said she would ask for a lower amount on January 7.

Ethan is being charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes. Besides the deaths of four pupils, six others and one teacher were injured.

The teenager had a brief court hearing on Monday and will return on January 7. His lawyer, too, needs more time to review evidence.

Mr and Ms Crumbley are accused of failing to step in on the day of the shooting despite being confronted with a drawing and chilling message — “blood everywhere” — that was found at the boy’s desk.

The Crumbleys committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to their son to resisting his removal from school, Ms McDonald said.

Oxford High School, to the north of Detroit, has been closed since the shooting. Athletes began returning to competition on Monday.

Other schools in the Oxford district were closed on Tuesday out of “an abundance of caution” after an online threat was directed at a middle school, officials said. Online threats against Michigan schools have occurred since the shooting and led to closings elsewhere as well as charges.

The school will hold its first board meeting since the shooting on Tuesday evening.

Updated: December 14th 2021, 10:21 PM