How unusual is it to accuse parents in school shootings? – .

How unusual is it to accuse parents in school shootings? – .

The guns used in shootings in American schools often come from the homes of young abusers, but parents are rarely charged for the violence that occurs, experts say.

This is what makes the case against Ethan Crumbley’s parents rare, following the shooting deaths of four high school students in Oxford, in southeast Michigan.

Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald said Jennifer and James Crumbley ignored intervention opportunities just hours before the bloodshed.

They are charged with four counts of manslaughter, while Ethan, 15, is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes.

The Crumbley parents were taken into police custody early Saturday and later appeared in court where a judge set bail of US $ 500,000 for each after pleading not guilty. Their lawyers said they would dispute the charges.

Here is an overview of the issues facing parents:


The semi-automatic handgun used in Tuesday’s shooting was purchased by James Crumbley on November 26 as his son stood at the shop, investigators said.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Jennifer Crumbley called it on social media a ‘Christmas present’ for her son, and Ethan posted a photo on social media, calling it his ‘new beauty,’ he said. McDonald said.

With a few exceptions, minors in Michigan are not allowed to own firearms. But no Michigan law requires owners to keep firearms out of the reach of children.

“So many states are doing it. There are 23 states plus Washington, DC that have some form of secure storage law, ”Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Will manslaughter be difficult to prove?

“It’s an unusual charge to make,” said Eve Brensike Primus, who teaches criminal procedure at the University of Michigan Law School.

Police said Ethan Crumbley had come out of a bathroom and started shooting other students in the hallway at Oxford High. A few hours earlier, he and his parents had met with the school officials. A teacher had found a drawing on his desk with a gun pointed at the words, “Thoughts will not stop.” Help me, ”according to the prosecutor.

Ethan, who had no disciplinary record, was ordered to consult but was allowed to stay in school. His backpack has not been checked for a weapon, McDonald said.

Primus said authorities must show gross negligence on the part of parents and causation, or the act of causing something.

“The prosecutor is going to need facts to support the argument that these parents really knew there was a risk that their son would take a gun and shoot people,” she said. “Not just that their son was somehow upset. This is a homicide charge that results in years in prison. This is not a small accusation. “

In 2000, a man in the Flint area made an indisputable plea of ​​manslaughter after a 6-year-old boy who lived with him found a gun in a shoebox and killed a classmate.


A 2019 assessment by the US Department of Homeland Security found that guns came from the home of a parent or close relative in 76% of attacks on schools where guns were used. In about half of the cases, the firearms were easily accessible.

But laws to restrict access to firearms are not always enforced and vary in strength, experts say.

“Our laws have not really adapted to the reality of school shootings, and the closest we have are these laws on preventing access to children,” said Kris Brown, chairman of the advocacy group. Brady gun control.

In 2020, the mother of an Indiana teenager was placed on probation for failing to remove the guns from her home after her mentally ill son threatened to kill students. He fired shots inside his school in 2018. No one was hurt but the boy committed suicide.

In Washington state, the father of a boy who killed four high school students in 2014 was convicted of illegal possession of firearms. He was not charged with the shooting, although one of his weapons was used.


AP reporter Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this story.


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