Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley deny charges of involuntary manslaughter

The parents of a teenage boy charged with killing four students at his high school in Michigan have pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The bail bond for James and Jennifer Crumbley, aged 45 and 43, was set at $500,000 each at an arraignment hearing which was held virtually.

The couple were also told they could each face up to 15 years behind bars.

Mrs Crumbley cried as she told judge Julie Nicholson that she understood the charges.

Their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of opening fire at Oxford High School on Tuesday in a rampage that killed four people and injured eight others.

Mr and Mrs Crumbley are accused of buying their son the handgun used in the shooting – he is too young to own his own gun under state law.

They are also accused of ignoring warning signs before their son’s rampage, such as concerning drawings found at his school desk.

On the day of the shooting, a teacher had found a note on Ethan’s desk with a drawing of a gun pointing at the words “the thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

They took a photo of the note, which also included a drawing of a person who had been shot twice with the words “blood everywhere”, “my life is useless” and “the world is dead” on it.

Ethan’s parents were called in to meet with school leaders at 10am and when they left Ethan went back to class with a backpack investigators believe was concealing the gun.

The shooting happened around 1pm.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said the parents have committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to their teenage son, to resisting his removal from school when they were summoned a few hours before the shooting.

Investigators said the gun was purchased legally by Mr Crumbley the previous week – apparently as a Christmas present – and was “freely available” to the teenager.

Ethan is said to have posted images of the gun used in the shooting on social media, writing: “Just got my new beauty today” and adding a heart emoji, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said.

Mrs Crumbley posted the next day that they were “testing out his new Christmas present”.

School officials had grown concerned after a teacher had previously seen the teenager searching for ammunition on his phone during class, said Ms McDonald.

Yet when Mrs Crumbley was contacted about it, she told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

The victims in the shooting are 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.

After the charges against the parents were brought, they went missing for a number of hours and were eventually found in a commercial building where they “appeared to be hiding”.

A later statement from the couple’s lawyers denied they were on the run and claimed they were returning to the area after leaving “for their own safety” on the night of the shooting.

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