By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A U.S. judge imposed a $1 million bond on the detained parents of a teenager suspected of killing four fellow high school students after drawing “The thoughts won’t stop — help me.”
James Crumbley, 45, and Jennifer Crumbley, 43, appeared in court via a video link from the Oakland County Jail following their arrest hours earlier in a Detroit commercial building.
Police searched for the parents after they were charged Friday with involuntary manslaughter in the killings at Oxford High School, 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan.
Their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of fatally shooting four students and injuring seven others on Tuesday.
Authorities said the parents had gone missing from the town of Oxford on Friday, but a citizen called the 911 emergency line after seeing their car, leading to their arrest.
Lawyers for the parents claimed the Crumbleys had disappeared for their own safety and were returning to be arraigned.
Prosecutors said the parents failed to act on several warning signs Ethan Crumbley had displayed before the school shooting.
Those signals included drawing a picture of a handgun and a bleeding figure with the words “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop — help me” written on a sheet.
Prosecutors alleged that a teacher saw Ethan Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone and alerted school officials.
The Oakland County prosecutor said the couple didn’t want their 15-year-old son Ethan Crumbley to be removed from school though officials advised counseling for him.
The Crumbleys committed “egregious” acts, such as buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to Ethan Crumbley, added Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald.
They resisted his removal from school when they were summoned a few hours before the shooting, McDonald noted.
Soon after the conversation, Ethan Crumbley emerged from a bathroom with a gun, shooting students in the hallway, investigators said. He is prosecuted as an adult on charges that include murder, terrorism, and other crimes.
Parents in the U.S. are seldom charged with school shootings involving their children, experts say. Yet, under Michigan law, they can be prosecuted if authorities believe their actions contributed to death or harm.
If convicted, the Crumbleys could face up to 15 years in prison.
At Saturday’s hearing Judge Julie Nicholson, citing her concern about their previous disappearance, set bond at $500,000 to each of the parents, more than attorneys asked for.
She also placed requirements such as GPS monitoring, agreeing with prosecutors that they posed a flight risk.
The Crumbleys’ attorney, Shannon Smith, said Friday that the pair had left town earlier in the week “for their safety” and would be returning to Oxford to face charges.
But Detroit Police Chief James E. White disagreed: “This isn’t indicative of turning yourself in — hiding in a warehouse,” White stressed.
White claimed the parents “were aided in getting into the building” and that a person who helped them may also face charges.
A Detroit business owner spotted a car tied to the Crumbleys in his parking lot late Friday, Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said in separate remarks.
A woman seen near the vehicle ran away when the business owner called 911, McCabe added. The couple was later located and arrested by Detroit police. Defense attorneys for the Crumbleys maintained they planned to turn themselves in on Saturday morning.
They accused prosecutors of “cherry-picking” facts to publicly release and said their clients were terrified and only wanted time to make arrangements. “Our clients are just as devastated as everyone else,” attorney Shannon Smith noted.
But Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the couple took $4,000 out of a cash machine not far from law enforcement or court locations they could have reported to.
That allegedly suggested they could not be trusted to appear for future court hearings.
The deadliest U.S. school shooting of 2021 is part of a long series of mass shootings at U.S. schools. Tuesday’s tragedy added to concerns about the many weapons in the nation and the perceived lack of police.
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