Oxford shooting suspect's parents apprehended on Detroit's east side following manhunt
Detroit — The parents of the accused Oxford High School shooter who prompted a multi-agency manhunt were apprehended by authorities early Saturday morning on the city's east side.
The U.S. Marshal's Service and the Oakland County Fugitive Apprehension Team along with the Detroit Police Department and other agencies had been searching early Saturday morning for James and Jennifer Crumbley of Oxford on the city's east side after they did not surrender to authorities early Friday afternoon ahead of a planned arraignment.
A vehicle linked to the missing parents had been discovered ahead of the couple being located at a location on Bellevue Street before 2 a.m., said Rudy Harper, second deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department.
Detroit Police Chief James White in an early morning press briefing at the scene said a tip led police to a commercial building in the 1100 block of Bellevue, where police set up surveillance and a perimeter before the couple was taken into custody without incident. Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said that tip came from a business owner who saw a woman near the vehicle.
The Crumbleys own a 2021 black Kia Seltos that could be seen parked near the building.
White said the couple appeared to be hiding in the building, were not armed when they were arrested and appeared “very distressed as they walked out” of the building.
White said the Crumbleys had assistance to get inside the building.
“… They were aided and we’re looking into that portion of the investigation, that part is very active now,” said White, adding that police know who let them in.
Asked if there could be additional charges, White said it's likely. The department is “working an angle on one other person,” and that Detroit police would work with prosecutors in both Wayne and Oakland counties.
The couple was transported to the Oakland County Jail and arraignments were held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Each pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges.
“Kudos to the Detroit Police Department for this great response and work," he said. "We wish to thank all of the agencies that assisted on scene including Border Patrol, (Michigan State Police), U.S. Marshals and our own Fugitive Team.”
Earlier Friday, James and Jennifer Crumbley had been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths of four Oxford High School students by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.
The Crumbleys' son, Ethan, 15, is accused of killing four fellow Oxford High School students and wounding seven others, including a teacher, on Tuesday, with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun his father purchased for him and that his mother referred to on social media as a Christmas gift for the couple's son.
The couple's lawyers, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, released a statement Saturday morning following the arrests.
"We understand that our clients were apprehended last night although we fully intended to turn them in first thing this morning for arraignment, contrary to the misinformation that has been rampant in the media," they said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this case presents the most unimaginable tragedy for every single person involved, including every member of the community.
"While it’s human nature to want to find someone to blame or something to point to or something that gives us answers, the charges in this case are intended to make an example and send a message. The prosecution has very much cherry-picked and slanted specific facts to further their narrative to do that.
"We intend to fight this case in the courtroom and not in the court of public opinion. We know that in the end the entire story and truth will prevail."
Several hours after the search began Friday, Smith and Lehman said the husband and wife were returning to the area to be arraigned
"The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety," Smith and Lehman said on Friday. They did not say where the couple had fled to.
McCabe said Fugitive Apprehension Team officers were sent out to search for the couple mid-afternoon Friday. By late Friday night, U.S. Marshals announced a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to their arrests
There was an ongoing dispute between McDonald and McCabe and the couple’s attorneys about how she handled the announcement of charges against the parents.
McCabe indicated the sheriff’s office was blindsided by McDonald’s noon announcement that the couple would face involuntary manslaughter charges when they were not yet in custody.
McDonald defended her office’s actions during a CNN Friday night interview. She has not responded to messages from The Detroit News.
“The prosecutor’s office doesn’t arrest people,” McDonald told CNN host Anderson Cooper.
A day and a half before the press conference, McDonald said she asked an assistant prosecutor in her office if police had “eyes” on the parents. She said she was told police knew where the Crumbleys were.
McCabe rejected that assertion as false.
“We didn’t even know they had been charged with anything until we were informed this morning by the media,” McCabe told The News earlier Friday.
And Friday evening, after McDonald made her comments on CNN, McCabe told The News that not only was his office not contacted by an assistant prosecutor about the case but that at no time did the department indicate to prosecutors that "eyes" were on the Crumbleys.
“No one ever talked to an assistant prosecutor and no one ever told anyone we had eyes on them,” McCabe said. “That just did not happen.”
Several hours after the search began, Smith and Lehman criticized McDonald for a lack of communication.
"On Thursday night, we contacted the Oakland County prosecutor to discuss this matter and to advise her that James and Jennifer Crumbley would be turning themselves in to be arraigned," Smith and Lehman told The News Friday afternoon. "Instead of communicating with us, the prosecutor held a press conference to announce charges.
"The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement despite recent comments in media reports."