Michigan DA Karen McDonald slammed for announcing Crumbley charges at media event -- long before arrests

The Oakland County prosecuting attorney appeared before cameras many hours before a teenage shooting suspect's parents were in custody

The Michigan sheriff at the center of the investigation into Tuesday’s deadly Oxford High School shooting said Friday night he was blindsided earlier in the day when the county prosecutor held a news conference announcing charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of the teenage suspect in the case.

"I’ve been sheriff for 21 years," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told "NewsNation Now," "and I’ve never had anyone have a press conference announcing charges before we had the opportunity to have somebody in custody."

"I’ve been sheriff for 21 years, and I’ve never had anyone have a press conference announcing charges before we had the opportunity to have somebody in custody."

— Sheriff Michael Bouchard, Oakland County, Michigan

Sheriff Michael Bouchard, Oakland County, Michigan (Pool)

Also tearing into Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald were an Oakland County undersheriff and two lawyers representing the Crumbleys, according to a report.

In an appearance on CNN on Friday night, again before the arrests, McDonald admitted she had no idea where the Crumbleys were located.


In front of media cameras earlier Friday, McDonald told reporters that the Crumbleys were each being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the carnage allegedly unleashed by their 15-year-old son Ethan that left four of his classmates dead and seven other people wounded.

Rewards offered

But after the Democrat’s new conference, the Crumbleys wouldn’t be in the custody of law enforcement until many hours later, after they were declared fugitives and had rewards of $10,000 each offered for their captures. They were ultimately caught in Detroit early Saturday, after their parked vehicle had been spotted.

Bouchard said during his TV interview he was surprised by the timing of DA McDonald’s appearance before the cameras – because the Crumbleys hadn’t been arrested first.


"We actually talk to, even our judges, that if they’re in court, and decide to remand somebody to custody, to not say that before we have deputies in the courtroom," the sheriff continued, "because the natural indicators typically are that as soon as somebody knows they’re gonna be arrested, they go in the wind."

James and Jennifer Crumbley (Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

James and Jennifer Crumbley. (Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

Also criticizing McDonald on Friday was Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe, who questioned a reported claim by McDonald that she had been told by an assistant in her office that police had "eyes" on the parents in case they tried to flee.

That McDonald claim simply wasn’t true, McCabe told the Detroit News.

"We didn’t even know they had been charged with anything until we were informed [Friday] morning by the media," McCabe told the News.

"We didn’t even know they had been charged with anything until we were informed [Friday] morning by the media."

— Michael McCabe, Oakland County undersheriff

Later Friday, after McDonald appeared on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show to defend her actions in the response to the shooting, McCabe again told the News he was questioning McDonald’s account.

"No one ever talked to an assistant prosecutor and no one ever told anyone we had eyes on [the Crumbleys]," McCabe told the newspaper. "That just didn’t happen."

Lawyers take issue

Meanwhile, Crumbley attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman also took issue with McDonald for holding her news conference, according to the News.

"The prosecutor’s office doesn’t arrest people."

— Karen McDonald, Oakland County prosecuting attorney

The lawyers claimed the Crumbleys left home Thursday night "for their own safety" following news coverage of their son’s alleged crime. They said they contacted McDonald’s office and told authorities the Crumbleys would turn themselves in Friday.

"Instead of communicating with us," the lawyers told the News on Friday, "the prosecutor held a press conference to announce charges."

Prior to that, the lawyers claimed, the Crumbleys were not planning to flee from law enforcement.


During her CNN appearance, McDonald was asked why the Crumbleys hadn’t been arrested prior to her news conference.

"The prosecutor’s office doesn’t arrest people," she said. She later expressed confidence that the Crumbleys would ultimately be taken into custody.

"They will be apprehended, one way or another," she said.

McDonald, 51, was elected Oakland County prosecutor in 2020, after receiving endorsements from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state Attorney General Dana Nessel, among others.