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Oxford school shooting suspect’s mom texted son not to kill himself, lawyers say

An Oakland County sheriff's deputy in court earlier this month instructs Jennifer Crumbley to put her mask back up. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

When Jennifer Crumbley texted her son “Don’t do it” on the day of the deadly Oxford High School shooting, she was reaching out to tell him not to kill himself, according to a new court filing.

This detail was disclosed Wednesday in a document seeking a lower bond for Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of the shooting suspect, who are facing involuntary manslaughter charges. The couple are being held on $500,000 cash bond each, though defense lawyers have asked a judge to reduce it to $100,000 cash, arguing the couple pose no danger to the public and have long ties to the community.

James Crumbley in court earlier this month. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Perhaps most notably is that defense attorneys expressed for the first time how the Crumbleys felt following the shooting, and why they believe the prosecution will not be able to prove a key point: that the Crumbleys knew their son would shoot up his school with a gun they bought him for Christmas

“The prosecution will not be able to prove that the Crumbleys … knew their son was a danger to other students, or that they knew there was a situation that required them to take care to avoid injuring another,” defense attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman wrote in the filing.

“The Crumbleys, like every parent and community member, are devastated by the school shooting,” the filing continued. “The last thing they expected was that a school shooting would take place, or that their son would be responsible. This situation is entirely devastating.”

The filing then cited the mom’s “Don’t do it” text to Ethan Crumbley that has made international headlines.

“When Mrs. Crumbley texted Ethan, ‘Don’t do it’ … the shootings had already happened, Mr. Crumbley had determined the gun was missing and had notified authorities, and Mrs. Crumbley was texting her son to tell him not to kill himself.”

The Nov. 30 shooting left four students dead and seven other people injured, including a teacher. According to prosecutors, the Crumbleys bought the gun that was used in the massacre as an early Christmas present for their son, who is now facing first-degree murder and terrorism charges.

Bond was denied to Ethan Crumbley, whose lawyers tried earlier this month to get the teenager moved out of jail and into a juvenile facility, arguing he had never been in trouble before and that the shooting was an “isolated incident.” The judge, however, denied the request and concluded that Ethan Crumbley belongs in an adult jail pending the outcome of his case.

The Crumbleys and their son are housed in the Oakland County Jail, though none has any communication with the other.  A bond hearing for the parents has been set for Jan. 7.

According to prosecutors, the parents did not have the gun properly secured, though the defense disputes that.

Killed in the shootings were Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.

Separately, a civil lawsuit seeking $100 million has been filed against the school district on behalf of a student who was shot in the neck and survived, and her younger sister who watched it happen.

The lawsuit alleges that the school district put students in harm’s way by ignoring signs of a troubled teen who was allowed to return to class after exhibiting troubling behavior in class, both on the day of the shooting and the day before.

According to police and the prosecution, Ethan Crumbley was seen in class browsing for ammunition on his cellphone a day before the massacre. The next day, he was found with a note depicting a semiautomatic handgun with the words “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” and a sketch of someone bleeding.

His parents were summoned, and a meeting with counselors and their son followed. The parents resisted taking him out of school. He was sent back to class with his backpack, which police said they believe contained the gun used in the shootings.

The backpack was never searched.

According to school officials, Ethan Crumbley explained that the drawing of the gun and blood was part of a video game design, and that counselors did not believe he might harm others based on his “behavior, responses and demeanor,” so they let him return to class.

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