School Climate & Safety

Jury Finds Michigan School Shooter’s Mother Guilty of Manslaughter

By The Associated Press — February 06, 2024 2 min read
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
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A Michigan jury convicted a school shooter’s mother of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday in a first-of-its-kind trial to determine whether she had any responsibility in the deaths of four students in 2021.

Prosecutors say Jennifer Crumbley had a duty under Michigan law to prevent her son, who was 15 at the time, from harming others. She was accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help for Ethan Crumbley’s mental health.

The guilty verdicts — one for each student slain at Oxford High School — were returned after roughly 11 hours of jury deliberations.

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Guns safes sit against a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash.<br/>
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Jennifer Crumbley, 45, looked down and shook her head slightly as each juror was polled after the verdicts were read.

Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews thanked the jurors and said, “We all know that this was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.”

On her way out of the courtroom, prosecutor Karen McDonald hugged Craig Shilling, the father of victim Justin Shilling, and the family of Madisyn Baldwin.

“Thank you,” a man whispered to her.

A gag order by the judge prevented McDonald and defense attorney Shannon Smith from speaking to reporters.

On the morning of Nov. 30, 2021, school staff members were concerned about a violent drawing of a gun, bullet, and wounded man, accompanied by desperate phrases, on Ethan Crumbley’s math assignment. His parents were called to the school for a meeting with school staff, but they didn’t take the boy home.

A few hours later, Ethan Crumbley pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot 10 students and a teacher, killing four peers. No one had checked the backpack.

The gun was the Sig Sauer 9 mm his father, James Crumbley, purchased with him just four days earlier. Jennifer Crumbley had taken her son to a shooting range that same weekend.

“You’re the last adult to have possession of that gun,” assistant prosecutor Marc Keast said while cross-examining Jennifer Crumbley last week. “You saw your son shoot the last practice round before the [school] shooting on Nov. 30. You saw how he stood. ... He knew how to use the gun.”

The teen’s mom replied, “Yes, he did.”

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Image of a gun sitting on a glass table.
edwardolive/iStock/Getty

Besides 17-year-old Justin Shilling and 17-year old Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Tate Myre, 16, were killed. Six students and a teacher were wounded.

Ethan Crumbley, now 17, pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism and is serving a life sentence.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents in the U.S. to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their child. James Crumbley, 47, faces trial in March.

Jennifer Crumbley told jurors that it was her husband’s job to keep track of the gun. She also said she saw no signs of mental distress in her son.

“We would talk. We did a lot of things together,” she testified. “I trusted him, and I felt I had an open door. He could come to me about anything.”

In a journal found by police, Ethan Crumbley wrote that his parents wouldn’t listen to his pleas for help.

“I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the ... school,” he wrote.

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Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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