Parents are Part of School Security, Too

On Nov. 30, 2021, Ethan Crumbley killed four students and wounded seven other in a school shooting in Oxford, Mich. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2023 after pleading guilt to four counts of murder, one count of terrorism, and 19 other charges.

But the story doesn’t stop there. In February, his mother Jennifer Crumbley was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in a Michigan courtroom because of the shooting. She is the first parent ever to be convicted in a school mass shooting.

Her husband, James, is set to go to trial on the same charges.

During the trial, prosecutors accused Jennifer Crumbley of negligence in multiple instances. Both parents bought their son a firearm for an early Christmas present just days before the shooting and took him to a shooting range multiple times.

Ethan’s mother was also aware that he was struggling with mental health issues and even contemplating violence. In text messages, Ethan told friends that he was experiencing hallucinations and hearing voices and asked his parents to take him to a doctor.

On the day of the shooting, a teacher found a drawing with Ethan showing a gun and a person bleeding along with phrases including “the thoughts won’t stop help me” and “my life is useless.” Both parents were called into a meeting about the drawing and didn’t inform the school about the gun and didn’t take him out if classes for the day.

Later in the day, Ethan opened fire.

While this case is first of a kind, it sends a strong message to parents. If you have firearms in the home, they must be safe and secure at all times. And get your children help with mental health issues. Parents are part of the school security equation.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2024 issue of Campus Security Today.

About the Author

Brent Dirks is senior editor for Security Today and Campus Security Today magazines.

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