Michigan School Shooter Admits What He Did

Ethan Crumbley pleads guilty, faces life in prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 24, 2022 10:10 AM CDT
Michigan School Shooter Admits What He Did
Shooting victim family members react to the guilty plea from Ethan Crumbley during his pretrial hearing at the Oakland County Courthouse on Monday in Pontiac, Mich.   (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP)

A teenager pleaded guilty Monday to terrorism and first-degree murder in a Michigan school shooting that killed four students and put an extraordinary focus on the boy's home life and the alleged role of his parents in the tragedy, per the AP. Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to all 24 charges, nearly a year after the attack at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan. In the gallery, some relatives of the victims were weeping as assistant prosecutor Marc Keast described the crimes. "Yes," Crumbley replied, looking down and nodding in affirmation, when asked if he "knowingly, willfully, and deliberately" chose to shoot other students.

The prosecutor's office said no deals were made ahead of Monday's plea. A first-degree murder conviction typically brings an automatic life prison sentence in Michigan, but teenagers are entitled to a hearing at which their lawyer can argue for a shorter term and an opportunity for parole. The teenager withdrew his intent to pursue an insanity defense, and he repeatedly acknowledged that he understands the potential penalties. Deborah McKelvy, his court-appointed guardian, told Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe that she believes he fully understands the consequences. Hearings to determine his sentence begin Feb. 9.

Ethan, now 16, had no discipline issues at the school, roughly 30 miles north of Detroit, but his behavior earlier on the day of the mass shooting raised flags. A teacher had discovered a drawing with a gun pointing at the words: "The thoughts won't stop. Help me." There was an image of a bullet with the message: "Blood everywhere." James and Jennifer Crumbley declined to take their son home on Nov. 30 but were told to get him into counseling within 48 hours, according to investigators. Ethan had brought a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun to school in his backpack that day, and he later opened fire in a hallway.

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Separately, the elder Crumbleys are facing involuntary manslaughter charges. They're accused of making a gun accessible to Ethan and ignoring his need for mental health treatment. Parents have rarely been charged in school shootings, though the guns used commonly come from the home of a parent or close relative. Prosecutors earlier this year disclosed that Ethan had hallucinations about demons and was fascinated by guns and Nazi propaganda. "Put simply, they created an environment in which their son's violent tendencies flourished. They were aware their son was troubled, and then they bought him a gun," prosecutors said in a court filing.

(More school shooting stories.)

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