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Parents of Oxford shooting suspect charged with involuntary manslaughter

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the gunman's parents resisted to remove him from class on the morning of the shooting.

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. — The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has charged the parents of the Oxford school shooting suspect with involuntary manslaughter.

James and Jennifer Crumbley face four charges of involuntary manslaughter each.

Earlier this week, prosecutors said their actions went “far beyond negligence.”

In a press conference Friday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said that while charges against parents in school shooting cases are rare, the "facts are so egregious" in this case that the charges were warranted.

“I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also hold a message that gun owners have a responsibility," McDonald said. "When they fail to uphold those responsibilities, there are criminal consequences."

RELATED: Prosecutor charges accused Oxford High school shooter with terrorism, murder

McDonald said that James purchased the gun used in the shooting on Nov. 26, just four days before the shooting. It was confirmed that Ethan had accompanied James, but James had said the gun was going to be his own.

Shortly after the gun was purchased, McDonald said photos of the weapon were posted to Ethan's social media with the caption, "Just got my new beauty today." Jennifer also posted to her social media, referring to the gun as Ethan's "new Christmas present."

On Nov. 29, the day before the shooting, one of Ethan's teachers reported that he was seen searching for ammunition during class. While the school reached out to his parents, there was no response to discuss the behavior.

McDonald said that Jennifer had messaged Ethan that she wasn't mad at him for looking at ammunition during class, but that he had to "learn not to get caught."

On the morning of the shooting, a teacher reported that a note was found on Ethan's desk with disturbing drawings. McDonald said that the note featured a semiautomatic handgun pointed at the words, "The thoughts won't stop, help me." 

The note also had a drawing of a bullet with the phrase "Blood everywhere" written above it, as well as a drawing of a person appearing to have been shot and bleeding.

The note also included the phrases, "My life is useless" and "The world is dead."

After the note was reported, Ethan and his parents were called to the school's office to discuss it. By the time the meeting happened, McDonald said the note had been altered.

At the meeting, a school counselor advised James and Jennifer to enroll Ethan in counseling within 48 hours. McDonald says the parents failed to ask Ethan where the gun was and did not inspect his backpack for the weapon.

RELATED: U-M expert: Preventing a school shooting | 'Secure firearms in home, help students and staff recognize distress signs'

When they were encouraged to remove Ethan from school that day, McDonald says James and Jennifer resisted, and Ethan was sent back to his class.

Authorities say the shooting occurred later that day just before 1 p.m.

McDonald says that when Jennifer heard about an active shooter at the school, she sent a text to Ethan at 1:22 p.m. reading, "Ethan, don't do it."

When James heard about an active shooter at the school, he called 911 at 1:37 p.m. to report that his gun was missing from his house and that his son may be the shooter.

RELATED: Authorities: Student kills 4, wounds 7 with father's gun at east Michigan high school

The shooting left four dead and seven wounded, including a teacher. Law enforcement responded to the school and apprehended Ethan within three minutes after their arrival.

McDonald confirmed that the owner of the gun shop where the weapon was purchased is not under investigation. It was not made clear if James and Jennifer would be taken into custody Friday.

“We need to do better in this country," McDonald said. "We need to say enough is enough, for our kids, our teachers, our parents, for all of us in this community and communities across the nation.”

Ethan Crumbley was charged this week as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder and terrorism.

The investigation into this incident is still underway.

Watch the full press conference below:

Related video:

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