Parents of suspected Michigan school shooter in custody after manhunt

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The parents of the teenager suspected in Tuesday’s school shooting in Michigan were taken into custody after a manhunt, Detroit police said early Saturday morning.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced Friday that James and Jennifer Crumbley had been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in the attack that killed four students at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit.

County officials said that prior to the announcement of the charges, the couple’s lawyers had indicated the parents had agreed to arrange their arrest if charges were filed.

When they could not be reached, it set off a search involving the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Apprehension Team, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement organizations.

On Friday afternoon after officials said they were searching for the pair, their lawyers said the couple had not fled but had left town the night after the shooting “for their own safety.”

“They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports,” lawyers Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman said in a statement.

Late Friday, the U.S. Marshals Service released wanted posters and announced rewards of up to $10,000 for information leading to their arrest.

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The Crumbleys walked into a bank Friday and withdrew $4,000 for reasons that weren’t immediately known, a source with direct knowledge told NBC News.

Under Michigan law an involuntary manslaughter charge can be pursued if there’s evidence someone contributed to a victim’s harm or death. If convicted, the Crumbleys could face up to 15 years in prison.

High school students Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17, were killed in the shooting. Seven others, including a teacher, were seriously wounded.

The county sheriff has said that James Crumbley purchased the gun used in the violence just days before the school shooting. McDonald said the pair were made aware of disturbing, violent images on the day of the shooting and were urged to get him counseling.

“James and Jennifer Crumbley resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time,” she said during a news conference Friday. “Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. He was returned to the high school.” 

Images that officials said were drawn by the teenager included a gun with the words “the thoughts won’t stop, help me,” and a bullet with the words “blood everywhere,” McDonald said.

The previous day a teacher saw the suspect searching for information on ammunition on his cellphone, she said. The school tried unsuccessfully to reach Jennifer Crumbley, the prosecutor said.

McDonald said the mother later texted her son: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

The prosecutor told MSNBC on Friday that the teen’s parents “had reason to believe he was dangerous. … I believe they should be held accountable.”

She reiterated that prosecutors believe the gun used in the attack was purchased for the teenager.

“We have parents who bought a weapon for their son,” McDonald said. “They posted on social that it was his gun. He posted on social media that it was his gun.”

The couple did not tell school officials Tuesday, when they were informed about the images, that their son had a weapon, the prosecutor said. Authorities believe he brought it to school that day in a backpack, McDonald said.

Lawyers for the parents did not respond to a request for comment.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Attorney Scott Kozak, who represented the suspect at his arraignment, did not respond to a request for comment.

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