The parents of the Michigan high school student who gifted their son with a gun he used days later to kill four of his classmates and injure others can face criminal homicide charges, an appeals court has ruled.
On Nov. 30, 2021, Crumbley opened fire in the hallway of Oxford High School and into classrooms, killing students Tate Myre, 16 Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17. He pleaded guilty in October to all the criminal charges against him, including murder and terrorism.
Attorneys for the Crumbleys had argued that the actions their clients’ son took that day were not reasonably foreseeable such that criminal liability should attach.
In a unanimous decision, the three judges who heard the appeal disagreed. After a detailed recounting of what the Crumbleys did — and did not — do in the days and moments leading up to the deadly shooting, the judges found that the parents didn’t do nearly enough to prevent the harm that followed.
“Despite their knowledge of all of these circumstances, when given the option to help EC and take him out of school, defendants did nothing,” the ruling said.
They did not, contrary to the recommendations of Hopkins, take EC home and get him immediate medical help. Nor, when they decided to leave him at school, did they tell school officials about EC’s history of mental health issues nor explain to them that EC had access to a gun similar to the one he drew on the math worksheet. Defendants neither asked EC if he had the gun with him nor did they look in his backpack. And, when they left the school, defendants did not go home and ensure EC had not taken the gun. Given all those facts, it was not an abuse of discretion to conclude that there was probable cause to believe that a juror could conclude that a reasonably foreseeable outcome of defendants’ alleged gross negligence was EC committing a shooting that day.
Hours before the mass shooting, James and Jennifer Crumbley had been called to the school after a teacher discovered disturbing drawings by Ethan Crumbley in a math workbook. They eventually left — without their son — after meeting with school officials and Ethan Crumbley himself.
Trial judge Kwame Rowe had ruled in February that there was enough evidence to move forward with the criminal case against the parents.