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Father of Michigan School Shooter Shakes Head After Guilty Verdict

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The Oxford High School mass shooter’s father was convicted on several charges after making a firearm accessible to his 15-year-old son that he used to kill four students in 2021.

James Crumbley, 47, was found guilty of four charges of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the Nov. 30, 2021 mass shooting carried out by his son, Ethan.

Crumbley, dressed in a gray suit and blue tie, lowered his face as the first count of guilty was read, eventually shaking his head as the jury foreman continued reading the verdict.

The jury took approximately 10 hours to deliberate, with the judge thanking each member after the verdict, adding, “I know how hard this has been on all of you just by reading your face. I know this has been a very hard decision.”

Crumbley’s attorney could be seen whispering into his ear, then he was then shackled and escorted out of the courtroom. His sentencing is set for April 9.

Some of the victims’ families could be seen hugging the lead prosecutor after the verdict.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald hugs family members of the students who were killed by Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley after Crumbley's father James Crumbley was found guilty

“Four children are dead because of the gross negligence of the shooter's parents,” prosecutor Karen McDonald said following the verdict.

“In Michigan, a parent has a legal duty and James Crumbley did not meet that duty. His failure to act led to the deaths of Madisyn, Tate, Hana and Justin. I know this verdict will not bring them back, but I hope it will serve as an example of the importance of holding those who enable gun violence accountable.”

Crumbley’s wife, Jennifer, was found guilty last month on similar charges in a case that has now set a new precedent on who should be held liable in a mass shooting. The Crumbleys now both face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Ethan was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to over a dozen charges, including terrorism causing death and four counts of murder. The teenager did not testify in either of his parents’ trials after his defense attorneys said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right.

Michigan School Shooter’s Mom Found Guilty of Manslaughter

During the five-day trial, prosecutors alleged James Crumbley acted in “gross negligence” and was partially responsible for the massacre because he ignored signs of Ethan’s spiraling mental health and did not properly secure the firearm used in the shooting. Prosecutors do not accuse Crumbley of having prior knowledge of the attack, which Ethan discussed in his journals, and focused their argument on his decision to buy his son a gun and hide it in his room.

“That nightmare was preventable and it was foreseeable,” Oakland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Marc Keast said in his opening statements.

On the day of the shooting, witnesses testified the Crumbleys were summoned to the high school after a teacher found Ethan’s math homework with a drawing of a gun and a person shot.

“The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” he wrote next to the drawing.

Nicholas Ejak, the school’s dean of students at the time, testified that Crumbley told Ethan during the meeting that he could write in his journal and had people to talk to.

“He expressed concern for his son,” Ejak said, later adding that he did not believe Ethan was an immediate threat.

Still, the Crumbleys declined to take their 15-year-old home—and hours later Ethan opened fire, injuring seven people and killing Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.

Crumbley decided not to take the stand, unlike his wife who testified in her trial. While on the stand, Jennifer Crumbley told the juror that while she regretted her son’s actions, she “wouldn’t have” done anything differently in her parenting style.

His defense attorney argued throughout the trial that Crumbley did not know the extent of his son’s declining mental state, or that he had gained access to the firearm. The defense’s only witness, Crumbley’s sister, Karen, testified that he did not notice anything wrong with Ethan when she visited the family in June 2021.

“You will not hear that James Crumbley knew what his son was going to do,” defense attorney Mariell Lehman said during opening statements. “You will not hear that James Crumbley even suspected that his son was a danger.”

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