Parents of US school shooter get 10-15 years in prison for their role

Parents of Michigan school shooter get 10-15 years in prison
James, Jennifer Crumbley get 10-15 years in prison for their role in Oxford school shooting. Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

A US judge on Tuesday (April 9, 2024) sentenced James and Jennifer Crumbley to 10-15 years in prison for their roles in the 2021 Oxford High School mass shooting that was committed by their son Ethan Crumbley.

He had shot dead four students and injured seven others with a gun during the incident.

Before handing down the sentence, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Matthews addressed the victims’ families, telling them, as quoted by Detroit Free News: “I can’t and will not pretend to understand the pain that these families are experiencing. … I saw what you saw. I heard what you heard.”

“Parenting is a complex job,” the judge said. “Parents are not expected to be psychic. But these convictions are not about poor parenting. These convictions are (about acts) that could have halted a runaway train.”

She termed Jennifer Crumbley’s behaviour at the school on the day of the shooting “apathetic”.

According to reports, James Crumbley had bought the 9mm handgun, used in the shooting, as an early Christmas present on Black Friday, an event which set the stage for the massacre.

Why the verdict is crucial?

James and Jennifer Crumbley became the first parents in the US who were held criminally responsible for a mass shooting committed by their child.

Separate juries this year convicted both parents on four counts of involuntary manslaughter — one for each student their son murdered: Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, reported Detroit Free Press.

The Crumbleys, who are planning appeals, had asked to be sentenced to time served. They have been jailed for almost 2 and a half years on USD 500,000 bond each. The judge gave them credit for time served, the newspaper reported.

In a statement, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said: “If it were not for the actions of James and Jennifer Crumbley, the shooter would have never had access to the gun he used to take four innocent lives inside Oxford High School. We owed it to the victims and their families to pursue the maximum penalty.”

“Nothing will bring their children back, but the Judge recognised the suffering these defendants caused, and she acknowledged the victims and their families. The sentence today provides the highest level of accountability under law, and that’s appropriate,” she said.

What happened to the shooter?

The shooter, pled guilty to all 24 counts brought against him, including Terrorism Causing Death.

After a Miller hearing last summer, the shooter was sentenced to life without parole by Judge Kwame Rowe on December 8, 2023.