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Attorneys say parents of Michigan teen charged in school shooting aren't fleeing

By Clyde Hughes & Megan Hadley
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Attorneys say parents of Michigan teen charged in school shooting aren't fleeing
Members of the community embrace during a prayer service and candlelight vigil at Bridgewood Church in Clarkston, Mich., a day after a 15-year-old student killed four classmates at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. Photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The parents of the Michigan teenager accused of killing four classmates in a mass shooting have been criminally charged and were returning to the area for arraignment, their attorneys said.

Prosecutors said James and Jennifer Crumbley are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for each of the students who died in Tuesday's attack.

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Their attorneys, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, said the couple was returning to the area for their arraignment after authorities issued a statewide Be On the Lookout alert for them, Fox 2 reported.

"The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety," the attorneys said in a statement. "They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports."

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The couple, who were scheduled for arraignment, stopped responding to their attorney Friday, authorities said.

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Their 15-year-old son, Ethan Crumbley, is charged with terrorism and four counts of first-degree murder and gun-related charges for the shooting at Oxford High School near Detroit. Police have said he planned the shooting spree and used a 9mm handgun that James Crumbley bought last week. He's being charged as an adult.

Under Michigan law, involuntary manslaughter charges can be filed if authorities believe a person contributed to a situation in which harm or death was high.

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If convicted, Crumbley's parents could face up to 15 years in prison.

Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald shared details of the events leading up to the shooting during a news conference Friday.

She said James Crumbley bought a Sig Sauer 9mm SP2022 on Nov. 26, and Ethan Crumbley posted photos of the semiautomatic handgun on social media, calling the weapon "my new beauty."

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In a separate social media post, Jennifer Crumbley referred to the weapon as Ethan Crumbley's Christmas gift.

School officials had earlier reported that Ethan Crumbley was searching online for ammunition during class and contacted Jennifer Crumbley, who reportedly texted her son saying, "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught," McDonald said.

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On the morning of the shooting, Ethan Crumbley's teacher saw an alarming note on his desk containing a drawing of a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me," McDonald said. The note also included a drawing of a bullet with the words, "blood everywhere," a drawing of a person who was shot and bleeding, a laughing emoji and the words, "My life is useless" and "The world is dead."

McDonald said the parents were immediately summoned to the school and advised to get their son into counseling within 48 hours. They left the school without their son, who had the weapon with him at school, she said.

When news of the shooting was made public, Jennifer Crumbley texted to her son, "Ethan, don't do it."

James Crumbley later called 911 and said the gun was missing from the house and he believed his son may be the shooter, McDonald said.

On Thursday, Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne confirmed that Ethan Crumbley was the subject of a disciplinary meeting that involved his parents just hours before the attack.

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Throne said administrators met with them to discuss the boy's "concerning" behavior -- but the meeting concluded that no disciplinary measures were warranted.

"There's just been a lot of talk about the student that was apprehended, that he was called up to the office and all that kind of stuff," Throne said in the video posted online late Thursday.

"No discipline was warranted. There are no discipline records at the high school. Yes, this student did have contact with our front office. And yes, his parents were on campus."

A few hours later, police say Ethan Crumbley started shooting inside the high school.

Investigators have not yet indicated a motive for the attack.

On Wednesday, officials said that a journal and video from Crumbley's phone indicated that he'd planned out the shooting spree. They said a video he made on Monday described the following day's attack.

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