Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Involuntary Manslaughter Charges Filed Against Michigan Shooter's Parents; Shooting Suspect's Parents Charged with Four Counts of Involuntary Manslaughter; U.S. Economy adds 210,000 Jobs in November; MI School Shooting Suspect's Parents Charged with Four Counts of Involuntary Manslaughter; Prosecutor: Suspect Drew Gun, Bullet, Wrote "Blood Everywhere" with Laughing Emoji. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello everybody! Welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. We begin with breaking news and we will get the details any moment we know.

The Oakland County prosecutor has decided to file involuntary manslaughter charges four counts each against the parents of the shooter, the alleged shooter who killed four students at Oxford High School in Pontiac, Michigan near Pontiac, Michigan earlier this week.

Let's get straight to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz he is on the ground for us. We're waiting for the prosecutor to come out and lay this out Shimon but four counts each against the parents of the shooter involuntary manslaughter. What more do we know?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is what the court complaint the criminal charges that have now been filed with the courthouse here that say that both Jennifer and James Crumbly the parents of the alleged shooter have been charged with four counts each of homicide and voluntary manslaughter.

And that relates, obviously to the four people who died in the shooting. This is obviously a very huge development. The prosecutors and investigators are have been investigating the parents since almost immediately after the shooting, learning immediately that the weapon that was used in the attacks was purchased by the father just four days, just four days before the shooting. And so that is something that they have revealed.

They revealed that early on in the investigation. But there's also other information that the prosecutor says that she's going to reveal something she hinted at last night when she spoke to Anderson Cooper saying that they were going to reveal information that could have prevented this attack. So we're waiting for her to step out here and start the press conference, which should begin momentarily John.

KING: And Shimon we'll come back to that when it happens. Let's bring it into the conversation. Our CNN Legal Analyst Elliott Williams, Former Federal Prosecutor. Elliot Caron MacDonald is the Oakland County Prosecutor we'll hear from here in a second four counts of involuntary manslaughter charges brought pretty quickly against Jennifer and James Crumbly.

You heard Shimon lay out the details of what we know so far, essentially, you know, their son was having problems at school four days before this shooting. The father acknowledges he bought a pistol for this son walk through how you build such a case.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So involuntary manslaughter generally is where someone commits a careless or reckless act that leads to the death of another that's the language in the law. So what it looks like they're charging with is just being careless in the securing or safeguarding or keeping of this firearm.

Now what's striking is that John, I think the night before the shooting, he posts on Instagram saying, hey, look, this is my new six hour handgun. And it's mine, so it's suggesting that either the father had purchased it for him and given it to him or had purchased it and just been very careless. And with the one the son sees it, I think it was his.

So it's extreme recklessness under the law that carries with it a maximum 15 year penalty, per count. And I think its $7,500 fines, it was quite significant. It would have been hard to charge them with the terrorism charges and other things that just would have required a greater intent that they intended to have something happen.

KING: Let's bring in our National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem on that point. The shooter the 15 year old son is charged with one kind of terrorism in addition to assault and in addition to homicide. The prosecutors' decision to move very swiftly here and also charged the parents four counts each for Jennifer and James Crumbly four counts each of involuntary manslaughter tells you what?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It tells me they have a much stronger case than mere negligence at this stage, because in most of these instances, the parents are not even criminally prosecuted in most historic cases involving a child or a kid using a gun.

Sometimes there are civilian lawsuits brought or civil lawsuits brought against them later on by the victim's family. This is historic if about it depending on what's about to happen, which is the first case that a prosecutor will bring criminal charges against the parents of a perpetrator of a mass school shooting for involuntary manslaughter.

This is a mass school shooting cases the only criminal prosecutions I can find in the past are ones in which they go after a parent because the kid shot himself or another family member so this is extending it. And part of this is because the NRA and gun lobbying groups have been so successful at stopping states from having even the basic home lock, no requirement of locks, lock boxes for guns and other weaponry.

So this is really the sort of next resort for a lot of these prosecutors because from what we can tell there's no vault violation of any gun law right now. So they're going to use the criminal system in terms of manslaughter.


KAYYEM: And you know as I said you know it's about time I mean these parents need some start to protect other parent's children. That's what - that's what's at stake here.

KING: And to that point Elliot, I'll bring the conversation back in here. I completely understand what Juliette is saying. It's about time we have these conversations too often about school shootings, about easy access for younger people, to weapons.

The political frustration, the parental frustration, the societal frustration is obvious and palpable, the question is, can you build a legal case, to make these parents an example, as Juliette says?

WILLIAMS: Right. These really aren't those controversial charges, then getting back to this idea of carelessness that ends in someone's death. There are rules governing how you ought to secure a firearm or secure a firearm in your home.

They're going to vary from state to state. And clearly there was and again, as Juliette really touched on this. The investigators here seem to know more than we do right now in terms of what the parents' knowledge might have been about what his intentions might have been.

KING: And Juliette, just one more to that point to the point Elliott's making there is we do know that the parents were summoned to the school just hours before the shooting. We do know that at least two teachers had complained, saying that they saw things they heard things that were deeply alarming and concerning to them.

And we heard from the sheriff yesterday, saying there's no video evidence that the student the alleged shooter left the school, therefore, the gun had to most likely have to have already been there, either in his locker in his backpack, or somewhere hidden in the school.

Again, when you're trying to build a case about what the parents knew what stands out to you as to how to connect the dots/

KAYYEM: So I'm beginning that weekend. So here's what's been interesting to me looking at. And once again, we don't know what's going to be disclosed today in the press conference, which is a father buys a gun over Thanksgiving weekend, the son who from the sheriff's press conferences has had no interaction with law enforcement, no interaction with the school.

On Monday, that becomes the first day in which a teacher says something's really off with this kid. And the teacher rightfully goes to a guidance counselor, Tuesday, something's really wrong with this kid, we're going to bring the parents in, who know that a gun has been purchased.

This is where it gets. So the kid is now in some sort of stress, or whatever it is, and the parents know a gun. And we don't know if it's the first gun has been purchased on the weekend. The, the compression of the chronology is likely going to help the prosecution that the parents had, you know, either they were negligent or, or involuntary.

But the parents ought to have known, right, they bought a gun. He's online for apparently talking about this gun. He's at school, where's the gun right? I mean, the parents have an obligation. So this is that compressed timeframe has always been sort of a factor that I think makes this case, maybe a good case to begin to press, parents who are in custodial custody of these teenagers. Where's the gun, right? Where is the gun that is, as I said, killing other parents' children?

KING: And the sheriff has also said he wishes as well as the school had alerted him. But the before us this moment, we're waiting for the prosecutor to step out and outlined these charges. We will go back to that event live as soon as it happens.

In the meantime, we do want to move on to some other very important news here in Washington today. And that would be the Biden economy in a somewhat deflating morning if you are the President of the United States at this moment. Joe Biden wants Americans to see that there is an economic rebound underway, and that is about to get even better, he says.

But convincing them it's critical, of course to himself in the party's future, but just this morning, just this morning, job numbers, job numbers that show only 210,000 new hires in November that fell well, well short of what economists had expected.

Let's get straight to the White House and our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, the president did say yes, the unemployment rate is down, but he glossed over the fact that hiring last month was sluggish.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that look, there's no question. It was a miss based on what economists were forecasting and it was significantly lower than the month prior.

And I think to some degree, when you actually dig into this jobs report, you get a sense, it's a microcosm of what the president has been facing on the most important issue for Americans over the course of the 11 months in office where you have to dig in on the report several very positive elements?

If you're talking about wage gains, labor participation rate all taking up and a significant point, if you're talking about the unemployment rate ticking down significantly from 4.6 to 4.2 percent. Those are all things that the president made clear he wanted to talk about. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our economy is markedly stronger than it was a year ago and today, the incredible news that our unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2 percent. At this point in the year, we're looking at the sharpest one year decline in unemployment ever. Simply put, America - America is back to work. And our jobs recovery is going very strong. All told, in the first 10 full months of by administration the economy has created 6 million jobs a record for a new president.



MATTINGLY: John to some degree, it's kind of the perfect window into for everything the administration can point to, that's going well in the economy, whether it's wage gains, whether it's overall growth, whether it's job gains consistently over the course of the first 11 months, there always seems to be something on the downside as well.

More broadly on a macro level, obviously, inflation at a three decade high energy prices had been stubbornly high for months at this point in time. It is the reality of an economy coming out of a once in a century pandemic.

And it's also a reality of an economy that's still dealing with a persistent pandemic, and one that has now gotten a little cloudier as everybody wait to find out what the Omicron variant will actually bring?

I would note, John, you may have noticed that the president's voice was a little gravelly there when you listen to his remarks today. He also cleared his throat a number of times something that's been more than norm over the course of the last several months, he did make very clear he is tested on regular basis for COVID.

What he has is a cold a cold from his one and a half year old grandson, John, who likes to kiss pop, according to the president.

KING: It was one of the lighter moments that a tough - day for the president this morning, trying to explain those numbers. Phil Mattingly I appreciate the live reporting. Let's get some important insights now, from Greg Ip, he is the Chief Economics Commentator for "The Wall Street Journal".

Greg grateful for your time today, I just want to put up the numbers because the president's right, if you look at let's look at the last 10 months. If you look, the last 10 months of job growth, you've seen, let's move to the other graphic, if we couldn't show the last 10 months of job growth, you see, they go up, they come down, they go up, they come down.

This is the world of the COVID pandemic, that the forecasters keep thinking we're about to come out of this, we're about to have a boom. But then the pandemic says no, this is a very different economy. This is a very different recovery. It will have fits and starts when you look deep into the numbers Greg, what do you see? What do you see good and what do you see this may be troublesome?

GREG IP, CHIEF ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the step back, John is very important is that we had a weak month in November. But the year so far has been tremendous. It's been an extremely strong year for job growth; it's been an extremely strong year for GDP growth.

Unfortunately, for the president, that's not really where people's minds are there on the inflation side of the equation. So that kind of complicates the message he's trying to project and things are back to normal. Now, if we dig down until November, it's kind of a mixed bag, the headline number yes, the jobs growth was weak.

And that's got to be disappointing. Also somewhat disappointing is that wages were only up a third of a percentage point, which was somewhat less than prior months. So even though wages are doing OK, they're not keeping up with inflation. What's the good news?

We're actually starting to see people come back into the labor force, maybe because it's they're less worried about COVID maybe because the enhanced unemployment insurance benefits has gone away for a few months now.

We're also on the inflation front, John, a lot of signs that some of the shortages are not as bad like, for example, that that long conga line of ships waiting off the West Coast, not quite as long. My guess is that things will look a little bit better on both the inflation and the job for a few months from now big asterisk Omicron.

KING: Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you next about that big asterisk, which is Omicron. In the sense that again, Former President Trump went through this during his last year in office. President Biden is now going through it in his first year in office, that every time you think that the cloud is lifting the COVID cloud is lifting either you know it either - it is in recession, or we have figured out how to deal with it.

Something comes along like a new variant hard to predict what goes forward, but just adding that uncertainty into if you're at a company, are we hiring new workers? If you're a worker, am I willing to go back into the workplace? What does that do?

IP: Well, with the caveat that we don't know how transmissible? We don't know how dangerous this variant is? But let's say it's broadly similar to the impact we saw from Delta. Delta caused a --

KING: Greg, I'm sorry. Greg, I'm sorry. I need to drop it. I need to take you this is Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald. Let's listen.


PROSECUTOR KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE: Good afternoon. I'm Karen McDonald. I'm the Oakland County Prosecutor. Thank you for joining me this morning.

It's been a devastating week for all of us, as we continue to mourn the loss of the four children who were shot and killed in the week this week in Oxford High School. We've heard some positive news that some of those injured in Tuesday's shooting have made some progress recovering from their physical injuries.

While the physical wounds of the victims are starting to heal the emotional wounds to the victims' students and the entire community will last four years. I continue to work with Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and his team to stay close to the facts and evidence of this case as it continues to evolve.

My role as the Oakland County Prosecutor is to seek justice for the victims of this tragedy. The family friends and loved ones of Hana St. Juliana, Madysin Baldwin, Tate Myre and Justin Shilling and the other victims have had their lives shattered.

As I mentioned a few days ago I did have the opportunity to speak with the parents of the children who were killed.


MCDONALD: Additionally my office has reached out this morning to all of the victims who were injured. And we continue to be dedicated to offering them services and support during this time. While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger. There are other individuals who contributed to this to the events on November 30th.

And it's my intention to hold them accountable as well. It's imperative we prevent this from happening again. No other parents or community should have to live through this nightmare. I have shared previously and I will reiterate today, that gun ownership is a right. And with that right comes great responsibility.

Based on the information and evidence I've received. Today, I'm announcing charges against the shooter's parents, Jennifer and James Crumbly. The charges are as follows. James Crumbly is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Jennifer Crumbly is also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

I will now publish the details that led to that decision and have already previously been made public which allows me to comment on them and a swear to that had just taken place in the district court by Officer Tim Willis Detective Tim Willis.

The investigation into the school shooting incident Oxford High School which occurred on November 30th, 2021, has revealed that James Crumbly purchased a Sig Sauer nine millimeter model SP 2022 from Acme Shooting Goods in Oxford, Michigan on November 26th, 2021.

A store employee confirms that Ethan Crumbly was present with James at the time of the purchase. Per statute James Crumbly, completed ATF Form 5309 A. Honor about November 26th, 21 Ethan Crumbly social media posts reveal photos of the semi-automatic handgun along with the caption just got my new beauty today, including emoji with hearts Sig Sauer nine millimeter any questions I will answer and quote.

Subsequent to the purchase of that weapon one of Jennifer Crumbly's social media posts on about 11/27/21 read "Mom and Sunday testing out his new Christmas present". On November 21st, 21, a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbly searching ammunition on his cell phone during class and reported the same to school officials.

Jennifer Crumbly was contacted via voicemail by school personnel regarding that son's inappropriate internet search. School personnel indicate they follow that voicemail up with an email but received no response from either parent.

Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbly exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day, stating, "LOL I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught". On November 30th, 21, the morning of the shooting the next day, Ethan Crumbly's teacher came upon a note on Ethan's deaths which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cell phone.

The note contain the following "A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words "The thoughts won't stop helped me". In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet "Blood everywhere".

Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are there words "My life is useless". And to the right of that are the words, "The world is dead".

As a result, James and Jennifer Crumbly were immediately summoned to the school. A school counselor came to the classroom and removed the shooter and brought him to the office with his backpack. Counselor obtained the drawing of the shooter had already altered it.

The drawings of the gun and the bloody figure were scratched out along with the words "Help me and my life is useless. The world is dead and blood everywhere". Those were all altered by him. As the meeting - at the meeting James and Jennifer Crumbly, were showing the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours.

Both James and Jennifer Crumbly, failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun which he had with him. James and Jennifer Crumbly resisted the idea of then leaving the school at that time of their son leaving the school at that time.


MCDONALD: Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbly left the high school without their son. He was returned to the classroom. When the news of the active shooter at Oxford High School had been made public, Jennifer Crumbly texted to her son at 11:22 am sorry at 1:22 pm "Ethan, don't do it".

At 1:37 pm James Crumbly called 911, reporting that a gun was missing from his house, and he believed his son may be the shooter. Further investigation revealed that the six hour nine millimeter handgun purchased by James Crumbly was stored unlocked in a drawer in James and Jennifer's bedroom. The gun recovered from the shooter at the school after the shooting was the same gun that was purchased by his father, James Crumbly on November 26th, 2021, in the presence of his son. Based upon the foregoing, the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office requested and received, authorized, we charged four counts of involuntary manslaughter as to James Crumbly, and four counts of involuntary manslaughter as to Jennifer Crumbly.

I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable, and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility when they fail to uphold that responsibility. There are serious and criminal consequences.

As we work together to honor the lives lost and all of those impacted by the evil acts this week, justice for the victims and their families is at the forefront of today's announcement. We need to do better in this country. We need to say enough is enough for our kids, our teachers, parents, for all of us in this community and the communities across this nation. Happy to take questions from you now --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night though --

MCDONALD: One moment. Go ahead, Mr. Scott.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, the superintendent posted a video and suggested that as a result of that meeting, they saw no reason to contact law enforcement if there was no danger. Have you seen his video that was posted to YouTube last night? And is there any thought you can share on that based on what you said today?

MCDONALD: I viewed portions of it and was briefed on the contents of the video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were there any missteps by the school? Should they have reported right away to law enforcement seeing those images?

MCDONALD: Any individual who had the opportunity to stop this tragedy should have done so. The question is what did they know? And when did they know it? I've laid out the facts that were sworn to this morning this afternoon and are the basis for the charges here? Did you have a question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you know we need to do better there needs to change to prevent tragedies like this. It's extremely rare for parents to be charged with school shootings. Are you trying to set a new standard? Or is the evidence simply overwhelming in this case?

MCDONALD: I have tremendous compassion and empathy for parents who have children who are struggling and at risk for whatever reason. And I am by no means saying that an active shooter situation that should always result in a criminal prosecution against parents.

But the facts of this case are so egregious reading this document looking at it, reading the words helped me with a gun, blood everywhere. This doesn't just have impact me as a prosecutor and a lawyer. It impacts me as a mother.

The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable and I think it's criminal. It is criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --your son who is underage and not allowed to own a firearm in Michigan.

MCDONALD: I believe that the facts probably indicate that that's the result but that would be a federal charging and if that's appropriate to make that then I'm confident that they will question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What level of responsibility do you expect from parents in a situation like this?


MCDONALD: Well, again I don't think that this is a unique or unusual interpretation. When you give your child access to a deadly weapon, when you indicate that you're buying a weapon, and it's you sign that it's for yourself yet, clearly based on the statements of the shooter, the statements of mom, that was his gun.

And then we have the searching of ammunition. We have mom saying, at least you didn't get caught. We have the next morning, drawing, essentially, almost explicitly what he was about to do. I mean, I and, and everyone to have humanity and to step in, and, and stop, stop a potential tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How dangerous - already?

MCDONALD: I'm not going to make a comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --the meeting between the parents and the school, he said they're resistant to having their son pulled out of class that day, you know, hours later, he went on to do the shooting. And, you know, there was no communication from the parents that he may have access to a handgun and may be in possession of a handgun after they've been publicly on social media.

MCDONALD: I can confirm what I just stated, which is that they did not indicate to school officials or to their son, whereabouts of the gun or the existence of the gun to my knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --removed and they were resist, can you give us more detail on that?

MCDONALD: I cannot comment on it at this time. He was not removed from the school, he was returned back to class with his backpack, where we have reason to believe the gun was stored in the backpack. Did you have a question right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a child --.

MCDONALD: Not that - advised now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you noted - the second of the school, the two teachers or wherever we were each aware of what had transpired like the teacher number two, with that teacher where what happened on day one?

MCDONALD: I can't speak to that. I don't - I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the other thing I have is for the families'. Have you briefed them on? What your investigation has found specifically with school?

MCDONALD: I have spoken to the parents and indicated the nature of the charges that might be coming. I have not spoken about the school --

UNIDENTIFIED MAE: And what was their reaction in terms - communications that came about some of this?

MCDONALD: These people are in incredibly deep, horrific pain and grief. Their reaction is, as you expect, they will want anyone who had the opportunity to stop this from happening to have done it today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the parents be arrested today or will they be allowed to throw themselves in?

MCDONALD: I can't comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --looking at anybody else for charges, maybe school officials?

MCDONALD: The investigations ongoing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any reason to believe or the teachers have any reason to believe that he had a weapon on him that day?

MCDOANLD: I've stated what was known to the individuals, what the search indicated and ammunition what the document I stated every single sentence that was on that document. So I suppose you should draw your own conclusion.

The conclusion I draw is that there was absolute reason to believe this individual was dangerous and disturbed. And I'll leave it at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the parents fully cooperating with the investigation at this point?

MCDONALD: I don't - I haven't conducted the investigation. So I can't - I can't say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prior to the shooting, did the district superintendent's office know about the issues that happen in the high school? They didn't stay in the high school, when someone in the high school actually go to the superintendent's office or administration and say this is what we have going on?

MCDONALD: I don't - I don't have any information about that, at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --being what it is. How was - how was this young man allowed to go back to class, given the circumstances you've described? The severity you're talking about? You mentioned it's still under investigation. And they're victims too, I'm not trying to assess blame, but yet they let him back in class with this type of severity. How does that happen?

MCDONALD: I'm not going to give you a political answer. And I'm not going to cover for anybody and I'm just going to say what I think and that is, of course he shouldn't have gone back to that classroom. Of course he shouldn't have. And I don't have ill feelings or negative feelings about any anyone and - but of course he should have.