Mother of Oxford School Shooter Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter
Jennifer Crumbley is the first parent in the U.S. to be held responsible for their child carrying out a mass school shooting.
OXFORD, Mich. — The mother of a teen who shot and killed four classmates at Oxford High School in 2021 was found guilty Tuesday of four counts of manslaughter, making her the first parent in the U.S. to be held responsible for their child carrying out a mass school shooting.
Prosecutors say 45-year-old Jennifer Crumbley was “grossly negligent” in giving a gun to her then-15-year-old son and that she had a duty under state law to prevent him from harming others, AP News reports. Killed in the shooting were 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
A day before the Nov. 30 shooting, a teacher saw the teen searching for ammunition on his phone. Prosecutors say the school then contacted his mother, who later said to her son in a text message, “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
On the morning of Nov. 30, a teacher discovered a drawing with a gun and the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. The world is dead. My life is useless.” There was also an image of a bullet with the words, “Blood everywhere.” The boy’s parents were called into the school to discuss the disturbing drawing but declined to take him home. They were told to get him into counseling within 48 hours. Their son opened fire soon after they left the school.
“The cries have been heard, and I feel this verdict is gonna echo throughout every household in the country,” Craig Shilling, father of victim Justin Shilling, said of the verdict. “I feel it’s necessary, and I’m happy with the verdict. It’s still a sad situation to be in. It’s gotta stop. It’s an accountability, and this is what we’ve been asking for for a long time now.”
Crumbley was accused of failing to secure the gun used in the shooting, which her husband bought for their son just four days prior. She told jurors it was her husband’s job to keep track of the gun.
Crumbley was also accused of failing to get her son mental health treatment despite warning signs. The shooter’s defense attorneys argued he had shown signs of severe mental illness years before the shooting and that neither his parents nor school officials did anything to help him, according to Fox. In a journal found by police, the teen 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.
Prosecutors also introduced evidence that the boy texted his mother in the spring of 2021 about “demons” throwing bowls and other hallucinations. Crumbley told the jury it was “just [her son] messing around.”
“I have asked myself if I would have done anything differently. I wouldn’t have,” Crumbley said during her testimony. “I wish he would have killed us instead.”
Crumbley faces up to 15 years in prison, and her sentencing hearing has been set for April 9. Her husband, James Crumbley, is scheduled to go to trial on the same charges in early March.
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