School Shooter's Mom: I Wish He 'Killed Us Instead'

Jennifer Crumbley takes the stand at her trial
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2024 12:30 AM CST
School Shooter's Mom: I Wish He 'Killed Us Instead'
Jennifer Crumbley testifies on the stand in an Oakland County courtroom on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.   (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool)

The mother of the Michigan school shooter who killed four of his fellow students at Oxford High School in 2021 took the stand Thursday in her own trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in those students' deaths. Asked if she wished the mass shooting had never taken place, Jennifer Crumbley said, "Absolutely. I wish he would have killed us instead." Her husband, James, faces the same charges as her but will be tried separately; Crumbley testified Thursday that she has not spoken to her spouse in two years, the Washington Post reports. Asked about a text she sent her former lover after the shooting saying she'd failed as a parent, Crumbley said she felt that way at the time, but now "I don't feel that I'm a failure as a parent." The case could set a massive precedent; it's the first time parents of a school shooter have been charged in the deaths.

"This is a case that could create real incentives for parents to be much more cautious giving their children access to firearms," one legal expert tells USA Today. Prosecutors argue the Crumbleys had clear signs their son was experiencing serious mental health issues, but instead of getting him help, they bought him a gun. On the stand Thursday, Jennifer Crumbley said her husband bought the gun and was the one in charge of storing and locking it. She also insisted she had no inkling of what her son was about to do. She said he'd been "a little sad" and "quieter than normal" in the fall of 2021, she thought because of slipping grades following a trip to Florida after his grandma's death. She said the then-15-year-old also got anxious at times over things like friends and the future, but she did not think it was a mental health crisis.

Prosecutors showed text messages the teen sent his mom, telling her he was seeing demons or flying pots and pans while he was home alone and begging her to write back; they say Crumbley was often riding horses and ignoring her son's messages, but she says she thought he was kidding with her about a family joke that their house was haunted. As for her telling him to not to get caught when the school called to tell her he was searching online for ammunition during class (a call she allegedly never returned), she testified that, too, was a family joke about her own younger days getting in trouble. She also denied that, on the morning of the shooting, she refused to take her son home when she was called to the school over disturbing, violent pictures he'd drawn. "I thought the advice they were giving us was good advice. They talked about being sad," but the meeting was "nonchalant," she said. (More school shooting stories.)

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