The parents of accused Michigan school gunman Ethan Crumbley are locked up in the same jail as their teenage son, authorities said.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested and taken to the same facility as 15-year-old Ethan, who’s accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people during a shooting rampage at Oxford High School, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
The parents were arrested hiding in an art studio in a commercial building in Detroit and charged with involuntary manslaughter for buying the 9mm handgun the teen used in the attack and leaving it unsecured.
The couple allegedly didn’t tell authorities Ethan had access to the deadly weapon when they were summoned to the high school to discuss disturbing drawings a teacher found on the teenager’s desk suggesting he was thinking about an attack.
Bouchard said it’s possible additional charges could be filed following the investigation.
The three family members are being held is separate sections of the Oakland County Jail, and are not permitted to communicate, Bouchard said. Each is in isolation and, out of caution, under suicide watch, he said.
“We have nothing to lead us to believe that anybody has any mental health challenges so far,” the sheriff said during a news conference. “They indicate no interest or desire to hurt themselves.”
Bouchard said the investigation into the parents’ disappearance for several hours on Friday is ongoing. He downplayed complaints from the attorneys representing the parents who said they had arranged for their clients to turn themselves in.
“We don’t wait for that when we have serious charges like felonies,” the sheriff said. “You can turn yourself in, you can go to court, you can come to any one of our substations, but we’re going to go look for you
Once the arrest warrant was issued, the office set started a full manhunt that drew in the US Marshal’s office, Detroit police and even US Customs and Border Patrol.
“We had communication that the couple was not responding to texts or phone calls from their attorney,” Bouchard added. “We’re looking for them if they show up, fine, but we’re not going to sit at the front desk and tap our fingers until they come in.”
He also questioned whether their intent was really to surrender.
“Were they actually going to do it? I don’t know,” Bouchard said. “But given that they were hiding in a warehouse in Detroit, it certainly raises my eyebrows.”
Another arrest is possible related to the parents hiding out, he added.
“We believe they were assisted in that location to get there, to get in” he said. “We’re gathering that information.” He expects that portion of the probe to be done soon and evidence to be presented to the prosecutor. Potential charges include aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice, Bouchard said.
The wide-ranging probe will also look at the school’s response to the threat Ethan posed the morning of the shooting, Bouchard said.
The school has been criticized for allowing Ethan to return to class after the meeting over the disturbing drawings. Superintendent Tim Throne released a lengthy statement stating a third-party investigation will be done to assess the response.
“At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm,” the statement said. “In addition, despite media reports, whether or not the gun was in his backpack has not been confirmed by law enforcement to our knowledge nor by our investigation at this time.”
He added that the Crumbleys did not inform the school that the teen had access to a gun.
Bouchard praised the officers who entered the school during the shooting, and said that as soon as Ethan saw them, he put his gun down and put his hands up.
There were 18 rounds still in the 9mm handgun when Ethan stopped shooting, the sheriff said. He said he’s been pointing to that number as he’s talked with traumatized officers who responded to the shooting.
“I keep reminding them 18 — 18,” he said. “There could have been 18 more kids.”