School shooter’s parents jailed


The parents of a teenager who shot and killed some of his classmates in the American state of Michigan were both sentenced to between ten and 15 years in prison.

James and Jennifer Crumbley, who bought their son the firearm with which the murders were committed as a Christmas present, are the first parents to be sentenced for a school shooting incident committed by their child.

The couple had already served more than two years in prison while awaiting trial.

Their son Ethan, who is now 17, is serving a life sentence for the November 30, 2021 shooting in which he shot and killed four classmates and shot and wounded seven others at Oxford High School, 70 km north of Detroit.

“This sentence is not about bad parenting,” Judge Cheryl Matthews said in her ruling. “These convictions confirm repeated acts, or lack of acts, that could have stopped an oncoming runaway train.”

The judge admonished the father for allowing “unrestricted access” to guns and ammunition in the family home and told the mother her attitude towards her son was “dispassionate and apathetic”.

Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin (17), one of the murdered learners, addressed the Crumbleys in court before the sentencing. “Not only did your son kill my daughter, but you too.

“The blood of our children is on your hands,” said Craig Shilling, the father of the murdered Justin Shilling (17).

Before the judge handed down the sentence, the Crumbleys addressed the families of the victims and the court.

“I stand here today not to ask for your forgiveness, because I know that may be out of reach, but to express my sincere apologies for the pain that has been caused,” Jennifer said. “I will be in my own internal prison for the rest of my life.”

James told the families “I’m sorry for your loss because of what my son did”.

“I can’t express how much I wish I knew what was going on with him or what was going to happen because I absolutely would have done a lot of things differently,” he said.

During separate hearings, the Crumbleys were accused of ignoring warning signs that their son had mental health problems.

Jennifer said her husband bought their son the handgun he used in the attack and that she took their son to a shooting range the day after the weapon was bought. The Crumbleys were called to the school on the day of the shooting after a teacher became concerned about a violent drawing she found on Ethan’s desk.

The drawing was shown to the parents and they were advised that they needed to get their son into counselling. The parents reportedly refused to take their son home and he returned to class.

He later entered a bathroom with the firearm that was hidden in his backpack, after which he came out and fired more than 30 shots.