(CNN) — Prosecutors charged the parents of the 15-year-old alleged school shooter with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in a rare move that caused commotion across the country.
Ethan Crumbley, who is charged with killing four students and injuring seven others at Oxford High School in Michigan on Tuesday, was charged as an adult with terrorism, murder, battery and other charges. On Friday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald called the actions of her parents, James and Jennifer Crumbly, “criminal.”
“I have tremendous compassion and empathy for parents who have difficult children. In no way am I saying that an active shooter situation should always result in criminal prosecution against parents. But the facts of this case are so egregious,” McDonald added .
Ethan Crumbley was present when his father purchased a Sig Sauer pistol just four days before the shooting, McDonald said. The teenager called the gun “my new beauty” on social media, while his mother referred to the gun as “his new Christmas present,” according to McDonald.
After a teacher said she saw Ethan Crumbley searching his phone for ammunition during class, school officials tried to contact parents the night before the shooting, but got no response. However, the mother texted her son that day and wrote, “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” according to McDonald. When another teacher found a disturbing note on the student’s desk on the morning of the shooting, both parents were summoned to the school and asked to search for their son in therapy, the prosecutor said. But the parents then left and the boy was sent back to school.
It is inconceivable that his father bought the gun and that both parents did not take the school’s warnings seriously, even though they knew their son had access to a gun that McDonald said was not well kept. As a mother, I am particularly surprised that another parent did not take proper safety precautions, especially given the circumstances raised by the school authorities. We as parents, of course, trust one to exercise good judgment to keep all of our children safe. The Crumbleys’ apparent lack of concern for the well-being of the other children in their community is absolutely staggering.
In this case, accusing James and Jennifer Crumbly serves as a wake-up call for parents and other gun owners that they should be more responsible when it comes to protecting their guns. McDonald’s actions in this case are fully justified, and the decision to prosecute the parents could serve as a powerful warning to help reduce the number of school shootings in this country.
Of course, accusing both parents in this case is not enough to solve the problem of gun violence in this country. As my fellow CNN Opinion contributor explainedJulian Zelizer, what this country really needs is stricter gun control laws. Legislators who have been neglected in their duty to pass this much-needed legislation also deserve a good share of the blame for the deaths of so many young children.
The news of the shooting was surprisingly familiar to Americans. The school shooting was the deadliest since May 2018, according to CNN’s tally. And there have been 48 shootings so far this year on K-12 campuses, 32 of them since Aug. 1. There is nothing normal about the fact that these shootings are now so common that parents really worry about sending their children to school.
While we wait for the solutions we really need, the decision to indict Crumbley’s parents and the possibility of others being held accountable for helping children get guns in their hands could have a positive impact. This strategy is clearly not a panacea, but this country needs to use all the tools at its disposal right now to try to stop the school shootings.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism