Michigan school shooting investigation widens beyond suspect, parents

Michigan authorities are moving forward with a broad investigation into Tuesday’s school shooting, including an investigation into the possibility of an accomplice to the suspect’s parents and action taken after those responsible for the school were warned of the teenager’s allegedly disturbing behavior.

Appearing on video Saturday morning, parents James and Jennifer Crumbley each pleaded not guilty to four counts of manslaughter, charges which allege they indirectly contributed to the deaths of four teenagers on Tuesday at Oxford High School, at about 40 miles north of Detroit.

Detailing the charges against the parents, Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald alleged guilt, saying the parents bought the suspect the gun used in the shooting and failed to act when staff school had warned them about disturbing behavior.

“These two people could have arrested him,” McDonald said during the couple’s arraignment on Saturday morning.

Shannon Smith, one of the two lawyers representing the Crumbleys, said at the hearing: “Our clients are going to fight these charges. Our clients are just as devastated as everyone else.”

The defense also argued in court on Saturday morning that the suspect did not have access to a gun.

“That gun was actually locked,” Crumbley co-counsel Mariell Lehman said in court. “So when the prosecution says that this child had free access to a gun, that is absolutely not true.”

At a press conference on Saturday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the Crumbleys appeared reluctant to surrender despite assurances from their legal team that they would.

With warrants in hand, Bouchard said law enforcement has started looking for the Crumbleys. Officials were told the couple were not responding to text messages or phone calls from one of their lawyers, he said.

The two were in what has been described as an art studio in a building near downtown Detroit on Friday night after someone spotted their vehicle parked outside and contacted authorities, said the sheriff.

The caller who reported the vehicle may be eligible for up to $ 20,000 offered for information leading to the arrest of the Crumbleys, Field Marshal Owen Cypher said at the press conference.

“When the tip arrived, the person was apparently smoking outside and practically ran away,” Bouchard said. “Where they were and how they were seems to support the position they were hiding, and they weren’t trying to surrender at the time.”

He credited Detroit Police Chief James E. White with the crucial role his service, which quickly rushed in and set up a perimeter in an area close to the Canadian border, played in capturing the two .

When the duo were reportedly on the run, lawyers for the couple insisted they would be on a postponed arraignment on Saturday morning, which they were after being apprehended.

“Were they really going to do it? Said Bouchard. “I don’t know. But considering they were hiding in a warehouse in Detroit, that certainly raises my eyebrows.”

Officials are investigating whether anyone at the Detroit site helped the couple, and it will ultimately be up to prosecutors to weigh the charges, the sheriff said.

“We think they have been helped,” he said.

The Crumbleys and their son are all being held in solitary confinement at the Oakland County Jail, Bouchard said.

Four students were killed in the attack and were identified as 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17. Seven other people, including a teacher, were injured.

A teacher raised the issue of the suspect who allegedly searched for ammunition on his cell phone a day before the attack, authorities said.

And on the day of the violence, the Crumbleys were called in to speak to administrators after the teenager allegedly produced disturbing images that included a gun, ammunition and the words “blood everywhere,” McDonald said after the shooting.

The boy was not removed from the school, nor banned from entering the campus, she said, and the attack took place after that meeting.

Bouchard suggested that the school should have notified authorities when the Crumbleys were summoned.

“At this point, we would have liked to have been on a loop,” he said.

The sheriff expressed concern for students and law enforcement who witnessed the violence and its immediate aftermath.

“There were some 18 unused rounds,” Bouchard said. “It could have been 18 more children. “

Tim Throne, superintendent of community schools in Oakland, said in a letter to the district community on Saturday that he had called for a “third party review” of the actions of the administrators before the shooting.

But he appeared to defend their decision to keep the suspect, identified by authorities as 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, on campus.

“Since the child had not committed any disciplinary offense before, it was decided that he would be sent back to class rather than sent home to an empty house,” Throne said.

Bouchard did not rule out including school officials in the investigation, but reiterated that any possible charges fell within the purview of prosecutors.

“Everything that has happened from the previous to this point until we are here today will be investigated,” Bouchard said. “Every detail we learn will be turned over to our prosecutor for… follow-up charges, if any.”

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