Michigan prosecutor highlights texts from school shooting suspect's parents sent to son before tragedy

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald on Friday charged James and Jennifer Crumbley with four counts of involuntary manslaughter

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Oakland County, Michigan, prosecutor Karen McDonald on Saturday highlighted text messages and a social media post from James and Jennifer Crumbley to their son, suspected Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, during their arraignment hearing.

McDonald said during the hearing that the "likelihood of conviction is strong" for the parents, who pleaded not guilty Saturday to four counts each of involuntary manslaughter after their son was accused of shooting and killing four students and injuring seven others on Tuesday.

"Mr. Crumbley purchased this weapon for his son, and…on [Nov. 27], Mrs. Crumbley…went to the shooting range with her son, posted on social media that it was a mother-son day, and that she…bought a gun for her baby for Christmas. It's also clear from the facts that he had total access to this weapon and that it was for him," McDonald said.

Crumbley arraignment on Dec. 4, 2021.

Crumbley arraignment on Dec. 4, 2021. (Oakland County District Court)

Defendants' attorneys disputed the claim that Ethan Crumbley, 15, had "free" access to the weapon, saying the gun was "locked" before he apparently accessed it and took the weapon to school.

On Nov. 29, the Crumbleys "were aware" that their son "was searching ammunition on his phone at school," McDonald said. The prosecutor previously said during a Friday press conference that an Oxford High School teacher noticed Ethan Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone during class. A teacher also noticed disturbing drawings that the 15 year old created in school.

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"Instead of reacting to that as a concerned parent and worried about safety, Mrs. Crumbley texted, 'L.O.L, just I'm not mad. Just next time, don't get caught,'" McDonald said Saturday.

On Tuesday, when Ethan Crumbley went to school with the 9 m.m. Sig Sauer pistol that James Crumbley allegedly purchased from a local firearms store on Black Friday, Nov. 26, James and Jennifer Crumbley "were called to the school about their son's drawing, which clearly depicted threats and acts of violence," according to McDonald.

Ethan Robert Crumbley and his parents Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley are pictured at the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac, Michigan. (Oakland County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS)

Ethan Robert Crumbley and his parents Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley are pictured at the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac, Michigan. (Oakland County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS)

"Instead of disclosing to the school that he had full access to this weapon, they chose not to take their son home. They chose not to tell anybody that he might be dangerous when it was clear [there was] every likelihood that he was. And instead, they left," she said.

After the Crumbleys left the high school, their son returned to class and pulled out the weapon.

MICHIGAN SCHOOL SHOOTING: ETHAN CRUMBLEY'S PARENTS FACING INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES

"After the active shooting announcement went out, Mrs. Crumbley texted her son, Ethan, 'Don't do it.' And Mr. Crumbley went to his home purposely to search for this weapon because he was afraid his son had the weapon and was in fact shooting people and hurting them, which, as we know, is exactly what happened," McDonald continued.

Crumbley attorney Mariell Lehman accused Karen McDonald of creating a media "spectacle" during Saturday's hearing after her clients did not appear at an arraignment apparently scheduled for Friday.

People attend a vigil downtown to honor those killed and wounded during the recent shooting at Oxford High School on December 3, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

People attend a vigil downtown to honor those killed and wounded during the recent shooting at Oxford High School on December 3, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Instead, local law enforcement officials sent out a "be on the lookout" (BOLO) alert and searched for the pair with help from the U.S. Marshals Service. Authorities eventually found them in a commercial building in Detroit early Saturday morning. Their defense attorneys argued that they were unaware charges would be filed against them on Friday and isolated themselves for their safety.

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"Unlike the prosecution, we weren't attempting to make this a media ... spectacle. This case is absolutely the saddest, most tragic, worst case imaginable. There is absolutely no doubt. But our clients were absolutely going to turn themselves in. It was just a matter of logistics, and all the prosecution had to do was communicate with me about it," she said.

McDonald previously said that defendant attorney Smith sent a text message to her on Friday, which she did not have an obligation to respond to. The prosecutor also said the Crumbleys "didn't need law enforcement permission to go to the court and turn themselves in."

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"The whole country knew that these charges were coming. And lastly, to suggest that this anyone is somehow using this incident to create press — there's a lot of attention here because four children were murdered, and seven others were injured, and that that is on the mind of every single person in this country."

The four students who died in the shooting are 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 15-year-old Justin Shilling.

Fox News' Greg Norman and Paul Best contributed to this report.