Black Friday, seasonal shopping day of the year, where retailers have massive sales hoping to boost the Holiday shopping season.  This goes for all types of retailers, even gun shops.  Father and son go shopping together and purchase a beauty, a 9mm Sig-Sauer Model SP 2022.  It appears it is 15 year old Ethan’s early Christmas present.  Proud Mom, Jenn boasts on social media about his new gift.  Ethan does the same.  Everything is normal for the American family.

But, Ethan Crumbley, a 15 year old sophomore student, had been having issues.  Some assume bullying, some assume mental health struggles. The motive is still unclear as of now.  He had made vague threats to students, prompting a Letter to Parents sent out from the school on November 12, 2021.  The letter advised they had heard the rumors of violence, but could find no credit to the claims, assuring them their children were safe.

November 29, 2021 the students returned to school from Thanksgiving break.  Ethan was caught searching  for ammunition on his cellular phone by a teacher.  The teacher reported her concern to the school.  Attempts to call and email Ethan’s mother were unanswered.  Instead, she texts her son “LOL I’m not mad at you,  You have to learn to not get caught”.  

The next morning, another teacher saw a picture on Ethan’s desk he had drawn.  The picture was of a gun, a person who appeared to be shot in the head, a bullet, and words such as “Blood Everywhere” and “the thoughts won’t stop, help me” as well as laughing emojis.  The teacher had taken a picture of it with her cell phone, and reported it to the school.  James and Jennifer Crumbly were again contacted by the school.  

According to staff, it took 90 minutes for the parents to arrive.  During that time, they determined his demeanor was calm and he spoke about how he wanted to become a videogame designer.  When his parents arrived, they refused to remove him from the school over a picture, and since the school did not see him as a threat, they allowed him to return to class.  

3 hours later…November 30, 2021 at 12:51 pm, a young man exits one of the restrooms at Oxford High School just outside of Detroit, Michigan.  In his hand, he is holding his new toy, aiming it at students in the hallways and classrooms of the school.  Active shooter drill is no longer a drill.  Teachers and students begin the protocol, fearing for their lives.  100 phone calls to 911 by students during the 5 minutes of shooting while Ethan fired approximately 30 rounds.  

There is also talk about Ethan pretending to be a Police Officer trying to get into a classroom, but was denied access after suspicion he wasn’t an Officer by stating “let me in, bro.”  Some reports say that it was Ethan, while others state it was truthfully an Officer.  Within 5 minutes, Ethan had placed his weapon down in another restroom and surrendered to police.  He had 18 rounds still in his gun.

Ethan is facing charges of 1 count of terrorism, 4 counts of 1st degree murder for the deaths of Tate Myre (16), Hana St. Juliana (14), Madisyn Baldwin (17), and Justin Shilling (17), 7 counts of assault with intent to murder for those wounded (6 students plus 1 teacher), and 12 counts of possession of a firearm while committing a felony.  The maximum sentence is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

  The moment Ethan Crumbley came out of that restroom marked the 222nd school involved shooting  in 2021.  The 222nd time a firearm was brandished, fired, or a bullet hit school property in one year.  Out of 222 incidents, 38 students were killed, 140 wounded, 17 other minor injuries.  Out of 222 incidents, there were 9 active shooters and 217 non active shooters.  That would be 100 more than the years of 2018 and 2019, which created horrible instances such as the Santa Fe High School shooting on May 18, 2018 with 10 victims, or the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb 14, 2018 with 17 victims.  Oxford High School was the deadliest school shooting since those instances in 2018.  Some of that could be because of the Covid pandemic, which had students out of schools, but now that they are all back, and it doesn’t seem to be any better.   

The media is portraying this young man in two different lights.  One version is he was a great kid, pure and innocent, that must have just lost control from bullying.  Another version is him as a very troubled kid who everyone seemed to ignore.  So where is the culpability?  

Some news outlets state neighbors have been concerned by his behavior for years now, even at some points contacting Child Protective Services, where the complaints were deemed “unfounded” or “without merit”.  The school knew of the potential danger, yet allowed him back to class after advising the parents to get him counseling within 48 hours.  The parents, however, knew they gave him access to the gun, stated it was “his” publicly, and after seeing his “art”, did not think to give him the day off of school or check his bag.

Again, there is more to the story!  The night before the shooting, Ethan had made 2 videos on his cell phone.  It is unclear if he sent them to anyone, however he did make a post on his Instagram account where he posted a picture of his gun and the quote “Now I become death-destroyer of worlds-see you tomorrow Oxford.”  DId nobody see this?  His instagram account says he has 117 followers.  Are his parents followers?  There are details we still do not know.  We also know he kept a very detailed journal of his plans to murder students.  The exact details of that journal have not been released to the public, outside of the fact it was also in his backpack.  

It is hard to think the parents did not realize something was different.  Mostly because the shooting began at 12:51 pm.  At 1:15, news broke to the public.  At 1:22, Jen sent a text to Ethan stating “Don’t do it!”  at 1:37, James called 911 to report the gun missing and stated he believes his son was the shooter.  They couldn’t reply to the school in a timely manner, but James could rush home and “notice” the gun missing.  Mom had a feeling and text “Don’t do it!”  

Typically, Parents are not charged in cases such as school shootings.  In this rare instance, however, the parents were being charged.  As they were learning, they retained an attorney for themselves and had a time scheduled to turn themselves in.  They did not appear.  Jennifer and James Crumbly went on the run.  A $10,000 reward was issued as a manhunt for the couple pursued.  They had withdrawn $4000 from the bank, while attorneys were stating they fled for safety and were returning to turn themselves in.

The couple was found late in the evening when someone called in and they believed they saw Jennifer.  In the area, their vehicle was located, and later the couple was found, unarmed, in a storage shed for an artist named Andrzej Sikora, whose office was located at 1111 Bellevue St in Detroit, MI.  The couple was arraigned by video later that evening and each charged with 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter.  They each have a bond of $500,000.

A couple of take-aways with all this is how the parents were charged.  Michigan Laws on guns are inadequate and have many loopholes.  Typically speaking, when you apply to purchase, you state on the application you are not purchasing the firearm for someone else.  Since Jennifer and Ethan both posted on social media the gun belonged to Ethan, this could create more charges against James.  So far, this is unclear.

Another is why we still have not done better on our gun safety laws.  Sure, the Second Amendment states the right to bear arms.  But we also have civil liberties to not be shot by a person with a firearm.  5 families are forever changed, while 7 other individuals have injuries and countless others with trauma.

V. Koch

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