fb-pixel Skip to main content

Here’s what we know about the parents of the Michigan shooting suspect and how the search for them unfolded

James, left, and Jennifer Crumbley are shown during the video arraignment of their son, Ethan Crumbley in Rochester Hills, Mich., on Dec. 1, 2021.Associated Press

James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the alleged Michigan school shooter, were taken into custody overnight after authorities located the fugitives in a commercial building in Detroit, police said at a news conference early Saturday.

The pair had been charged by a prosecutor the day prior with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four students at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit who police say their son, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, fatally shot. But after they failed to show up for their arraignment and fled town, a manhunt for the two was launched Friday.

“We have in fact taken them into custody without incident,” Detroit Police Chief James White said at the morning briefing. “They appeared to be hiding in the building.”


Here is what we know about James and Jennifer Crumbley and how they were ultimately found by authorities.

What did the prosecutor say about the charges they are facing and their exchanges with their son?

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald disclosed the charges and chilling details Friday about the actions of Ethan, the suspect in the shooting, and his exchanges with his parents both leading up to the devastating incident and in its aftermath. The teenager has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes that include murder, attempted murder, and terrorism.

McDonald said James and Jennifer were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after authorities discovered they had purchased the semi-automatic handgun Ethan allegedly used to carry out the shootings Tuesday, which led to four students being killed and seven people injured. She accused them of failing to intervene on the day of the tragedy and of committing several “egregious” acts.

Both parents, McDonald said, were culpable because they had purchased a gun and allowed Ethan access to it, and also ignored various, glaring signs he was on the edge of violence after being confronted with them by school officials.


Those signs included: A teacher seeing Ethan searching for ammunition on his phone in class (after which Jennifer allegedly texted “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”); failing to act when shown a disturbing drawing that depicted someone being shot with the words “Help me”; and resisting his removal from school despite concern from administrators on the day of the shooting. McDonald said Jennifer and James also failed to inspect his backpack while on the premises the day of the shooting.

What happened after they were charged?

Authorities had been searching for Jennifer and James for most of the day on Friday after they were charged. Law enforcement officials reported that they had gone missing that afternoon after failing to show up for their arraignment. In a press release, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said that the “action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges.”

As a result, a manhunt was prompted that involved United States Marshals, FBI agents, and the county’s fugitive-apprehension team. Two attorneys working with the couple said in a statement that they had left town out of fear “for their own safety” and that they were “not fleeing from law enforcement.”

The sheriff’s office reported that the Crumbleys were driving a black 2021 Kia Seltos SUV, and encouraged people to be on the lookout. A law enforcement official told CNN that the parents withdrew $4,000 from an ATM in Rochester Hills, Mich., on Friday, which is located about 10 to 15 miles from Oxford. The official also said that law enforcement was tracking their cell phone pings, but the signal dropped after the phones were turned off. The Marshals had offered a reward late Friday night of up to $10,000 each for information in the case that could lead to the couple’s arrest.


Where were they eventually located?

James and Jennifer were found after authorities received a tip that led them to where the arrest took place, White said at the press conference. It was the tip that drew in local law enforcement.

A Detroit business owner had located their car in his parking lot late Friday, and a woman who was seen near the vehicle ran from the scene when he called 911, 7 Action News reported. Their car was found a block from where they were taken into custody.

The couple was located in a commercial building, just north of the Detroit River. By about 1:45 a.m. local time, the Crumbleys were under arrest, the Detroit Free Press reported. White said they were taken into custody “without incident.”

“It was a tip that led us to this location and allowed us to do our work,” White said. “They appeared to be hiding in the building.”

When officers got the tip that the couple was possibly in the building, White said they “responded in a matter of minutes” and set up a perimeter, did surveillance, and activated their special response team. Police arrived on the scene around 10:30 p.m. local time, but White said he did not know how long the couple was in the building “prior to that.”


“There was a video that had one of the two fugitives entering the building, and we were confident that they were in the building,” White said, adding that the Crumbleys were “hidden inside one of the rooms.”

What did the police say after they were arrested?

White said the Crumbleys “certainly appeared to be distressed” when they were taken into custody. He did not disclose what the couple said upon being arrested, citing the ongoing investigation.

One of the two parents had their “head down, had a hoodie on, and was just very upset,” White added.

The couple was aided getting into the building, White said. He noted that part of the investigation is “very active right now.” White said police know who the person is that allowed the Crumbleys into the building, but he did not reveal their identity.

That individual could “absolutely” be facing charges, White said, but only the Crumbleys were taken into custody. “No one else is in custody yet, but we are working an angle on one other person that may have been assisting them,” he said.

What will happen now?

The Crumbleys were turned over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, White said. They were taken to the county jail.

The couple went to their virtual arraignment on Saturday. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said more information will be released later in the day.

Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.