Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges

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Undated handouts provided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office show James (left) and Jennifer Crumbley (right). A prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges Friday, Dec. 3, 20201 against the couple, whose 15-year-old son, Ethan Crumbley is accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school.(Oakland County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

(AP/CBS) – James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the accused Oxford High School shooter who were charged with involuntary manslaughter, were captured early Saturday morning following a police manhunt that ended in the basement of a Detroit building. Later on Saturday, they pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Detroit Police confirmed to CBS station WWJ that the two had been found, after their abandoned vehicle was spotted on a street in Detroit, about an hour south of Oxford.

The couple was located and arrested by Detroit Police, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office told CBS News, after receiving a 911 call from a business owner who spotted the suspects’ vehicle in his parking lot. The caller observed a female near the car, who fled on foot.

After an extensive search by police, including with Detroit K-9 units, both fugitives were located and arrested. 

Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley said in a statement early Saturday that their clients were apprehended even though they “fully intended to turn them in first thing this morning for arraignment, contrary to the misinformation that has been rampant in the media.”

“Unfortunately, this case presents the most unimaginable tragedy for every single person involved, including every member of the community,” Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman said in a statement. “While it’s human nature to want to find someone to blame or something to point to or something that gives us answers, the charges in this case are intended to make an example and send a message. The prosecution has very much cherry- picked and slanted specific facts to further their narrative to do that.”

“We intend to fight this case in the courtroom and not in the court of public opinion,” they said. “We know that in the end the entire story and truth will prevail.”

Judge Julie Nicholson assigned bond of $500,000 to each parent at a hearing on Saturday and placed other requirements such as GPS monitoring. The judge agreed with prosecutors that the couple posed a flight risk.  

Authorities had been searching for James and Jennifer after they were charged in connection with the school shooting earlier Friday, the U.S. Marshals office said. They were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, and had not turned themselves into authorities as of Friday night.  

The U.S. Marshals Service released wanted posters for the couple, offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to their capture.

Earlier Friday, an attorney for the couple said they left town the day of the shooting and were returning to be arraigned, but the couple missed their Friday afternoon arraignment. Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe told CBS News that he was contacted by the attorney at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday with assurances that the Crumbleys “were going to turn themselves in” and that the attorney would “text my detective sergeant tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.”

The county prosecutor, Karen McDonald, announced the charges against the couple on Friday, saying they failed to prevent the tragedy and allowed their son to have access to the gun he used in the shooting.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to the events on November 30 and it’s my intention to hold them accountable as well,” McDonald said at a news conference. 

The shooting suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, faces 24 charges in Tuesday’s shooting, including four counts of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism causing death. Four people were killed and seven others were wounded in the shooting at Oxford High School. 

The teen made his first court appearance on Wednesday and entered a plea of not guilty.

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