The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

Parents of School Shooter held Accountable for Negligence

On November 30th, 2021, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and killed four students at Oxford Highschool in Michigan. Crumbley was sentenced to life in prison, pleading guilty to 24 charges. Now, over two years after the shooting, Mrs. Jennifer Crumbley –Ethan’s mom– has been found guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for her son’s actions.  

Jennifer Crumbley

Leaving four students dead, and several others injured, Ethan Crumbley’s mass shooting was Michigan’s most deadly. This act of unspeakable violence was committed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun. Crumbley was sentenced on December 8, 2023, facing life in prison without parole after being charged as an adult. Around two months later, his mom was also sentenced to jail time, but for what? It leads back to her irresponsible actions. 

After the shooting, a search warrant was granted to search the Crumbley’s home. Items seized at their home included a cell phone, journal, and several guns. The information discovered from these items became crucial to the investigation.  

 It was learned that the gun used in the mass shooting was purchased by Ethan Crumbley’s father four days prior. Despite his purchase, Jennifer Crumbley was the one last seen in possession of the gun according to surveillance footage from the gun range they visited the day after the purchase. When talking to C. Milton Wright’s own school counselor Ms. Mclean, she emphasized that “Following gun safety laws is so important for parents to do.” This evidence would be strongly used against her for the gun not being properly taken care of. In addition, Jennifer Crumbley also made a social media post describing the gun as “Ethan’s new Christmas present.”  

A few days later, Crumbley was caught using his phone to search for ammunition in school. After being reported by the teacher, he claimed that “shooting sports were a family hobby.” Despite being left a concerning E-mail and voicemail from the school, Jennifer Crumbley took no disciplinary action and simply sent a text to Ethan stating, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”  

The next day – the day of the shooting – Crumbley was reported for drawing a gruesome and unsettling scene on his math paper. It included drawings of someone being shot with a handgun, bloodshed, and a laughing emoji. Notes he wrote on the side of the drawing included, “Blood everywhere,” and “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” Crumbley was taken to the guidance office, and the school staff requested his parents to come to school. The parents were shown the drawings and were instructed to seek counseling immediately for their son. His parents did not take him out of school despite the counselors’ recommendations and neglected to inform the school that they had recently purchased a gun for him. Hours later, the tragedy would begin.  

Additionally, Crumbley’s journal was discovered in school after the shooting. What was found inside was extremely disturbing. Drawings of bloodshed were accompanied with pleas for help that were being ignored. One quote included, “My parents won’t listen to me or help me about a therapist.” Jennifer Crumbley denied her son ever mentioning a therapist or struggling with his mental health. She only testified that her son was worried about his future after high school, but nothing truly alarmed her.  

Karen D. McDonald was the Oakland County prosecutor who was responsible for the charging of Jennifer Crumbley. McDonald’s claim was that Jennifer Crumbley was guilty of failing to exercise ordinary care when the smallest tragically simple thing could have prevented a disaster.” Jennifer Crumbley now faces up to 15 years in prison, and the idea that the shooting could have been prevented is one that has been strengthened. Her husband, James Crumbley, is taking the stand separately in March for the same charges.  

The parents of the victims of the shootings expressed their gratitude to the prosecutors for their decision to hold Jennifer accountable for her neglective actions. The seriousness of the trial made it so significant for prosecutors to display their push for holding parents accountable for enabling violence in their children.  


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