James Crumbley, who bought gun used by son to kill 4 students, guilty of manslaughter in Michigan

James Crumbley and his attorney Mariell Lehman listen to the verdict Thursday in Oakland County Court in Pontiac, Mich. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP, Pool)

PONTIAC, Mich. — The father of a Michigan school shooter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Thursday, a second conviction against the teen’s parents who were accused of failing to secure a gun at home and doing nothing to address acute signs of his mental turmoil.

The jury verdict means James Crumbley has joined Jennifer Crumbley as a cause of the killing of four students at Oxford High School in 2021, even without pulling the trigger.

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They had separate trials as the first U.S. parents to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their child. Jennifer Crumbley was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in February.

The verdicts — one each for the four victims — were read around 7:15 p.m. at the end of a full day of deliberations in Oakland County court.

James Crumbley, 47, who heard the outcome through headphones because of a hearing problem, shook his head from side to side as the jury foreman said “guilty.”

Family of some of the fallen students wept quietly and gripped each other’s hands in the second row of the courtroom.

Later at a news conference, county prosecutor Karen McDonald stood next to them and praised their “unwavering courage” through extraordinary tragedy and grief.

Defense attorney Mariell Lehman said James Crumbley “obviously feels terrible” about what happened at the school. He and his wife each face a possible minimum sentence of as much as 10 years in prison when they return to court April 9.

Prosecutors focused on two key themes at the trial: the parents’ response to a morbid drawing on Ethan Crumbley’s math assignment a few hours before the shooting, and the teen’s access to a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun purchased by James Crumbley only four days earlier.

Ethan, 15, made a ghastly drawing of a gun and a wounded man on a math assignment and added disturbing phrases, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. My life is useless.”

But James and Jennifer Crumbley declined to take Ethan home following a brief meeting at the school, and staff didn’t demand it. A counselor, concerned about suicidal ideations, told them to seek help for the boy within 48 hours.

Ethan had told counselor Shawn Hopkins that he was sad over the death of his dog and grandmother and the loss of a friend who had abruptly moved away. He said the drawing was simply his jottings for a video game and that he wasn’t planning to commit violence.

Neither he, nor his parents, told school officials about the gun they had just bought, according to trial testimony.

Hopkins had hoped Ethan would spend the day with his parents. But when that was ruled out, the counselor felt the teen would probably be safer around others at school.

Ethan later pulled the Sig Sauer from his backpack and began shooting that same day, killing Justin Shilling, 17; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Tate Myre, 16. No one had checked the bag, though a school administrator had joked about its heaviness.

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