WASHINGTON (AFP) — The parents of a 15-year-old who shot dead four students at a United States high school with a gun bought by his father pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter Saturday, as a Michigan judge set a combined million-dollar bond for their release.
James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley, were arrested overnight after police tracked them down in an industrial building in Detroit — 65 kilometers from the shooting in Oxford.
At their arraignment Judge Julie Nicholson set bond at $500,000 for each parent, calling the charges “very, very serious” and saying “the court does have some concern about the flight risk.”
Four students, aged 14 to 17, were killed in the Tuesday shooting at Oxford High School north of Detroit and six more were wounded, along with a teacher.
The couple’s son Ethan has been charged as an adult with state murder and terror charges, while his parents each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter — each carrying a sentence of up to 15 years in jail.
In announcing charges against the boy’s parents on Friday, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said the rare move was intended to “send the message” that gun owners have a responsibility.
The Crumbleys are accused not only of supplying their son with a weapon, but of ignoring escalating warnings that he appeared to be on the brink of violence — including on the day of the shooting.
Four days before the tragedy, James Crumbley bought the 9mm Sig Sauer semi-automatic handgun for his son, McDonald told the judge at Saturday’s hearing.