Michigan DA: Accused Shooter’s Parents ‘Must Be Held Accountable’

Michigan DA: Accused Shooter's Parents 'Must Be Held Accountable' karen mcdonald holds press conference Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney Karen McDonald announces that charges have been filed against the parents of accused Oxford High School gunman Eathan Crumbley during a press conference on Dec. 3 2021, in Pontiac, Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 06 December 2021 10:34 AM

Michigan prosecutor Karen McDonald Monday defended her decision to file criminal charges against the parents of accused school shooter Ethan Crumbley, saying they "must be held accountable" for his having access to the gun that was used to kill four students and wound several others.

"This is a terrible tragedy, and at some point, we have to acknowledge that all of the training and all of the events that lead to kids, teaching them to hide under desks and what to do in an active shooter situation is very important," the Oakland County district attorney told ABC News' "Good Morning America."

"In this case, everything was done perfectly except that four kids were still murdered and several others injured, not to mention the hundreds of other kids who were in that school and their lives will never be the same," she added. "Nor will the community. The parents are responsible, and I think that they should be held accountable. None of that would have happened if he had not had access to a handgun."

A judge Saturday set a combined $1 million bond against James and Jennifer Crumbley after they entered not guilty pleas to four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The couple was caught early Saturday in a commercial building in Detroit several hours after McDonald filed the charges against them.

McDonald said Monday that she couldn't comment about whether the couple has made any statements in the case and that the charges against them are still allegations, but still, she said some facts have been made public and sworn to in court.

"They purchased that weapon for their 15-year-old, bragged about it online, thought this was some joyous occasion as a present, and in combination with nonsocial media posts, some social media posts, the gun was his, and he had free access to it," McDonald said.

And then, there were "warning signs" the day before the shootings at Oxford High School last Tuesday, said McDonald.

"It just goes beyond any sort of mere negligence or mistake," she said. "It's criminal."

The gun had been kept in an unlocked drawer in the parents' bedroom, according to reports in the case, but McDonald told ABC News Monday that whether or not the gun was locked, "he had access to it."

"Securing a weapon doesn't mean just locking it, if you are going to just allow a minor or somebody you think you might be dangerous free access to unlock it," said McDonald. "These are just allegations, but the evidence shows at this point that he absolutely had free access to that weapon, and, in fact, it was purchased for him."

McDonald said the investigation is continuing concerning whether the school will also be held criminally responsible for allowing Ethan Crumbley to return to class after discovering his drawings.

"I can tell you that there is outrage in the community," she said. "I can tell you that we all should be looking at the events that led up to that horrific event, and as a community, as a school, as a nation, talk about what we could have done differently so that didn't happen."

And in this case, "a lot could have been done differently," she said.

"He was allowed to go back to school," said McDonald. "That weapon was either with him or someplace where he could have stored it in the school, but he had it in the school … you can't even in an airport mention anything that remotely indicates that there might be some sort of violence on a plane or you'll be immediately extracted."

But with Ethan Crumbley, "we have a kid who was saying some pretty concerning things, and he was allowed to go back to school, and neither parent mentioned that he had access to a weapon. It's not just tragic. It's not just disappointing. I believe it's criminal."