During Tuesday’s court proceedings, a Michigan school official testified that he felt powerless to search a teen’s backpack before the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of four fellow students.
Nick Ejak, responsible for discipline at Oxford High School, expressed concerns about Ethan Crumbley’s mental state but did not perceive him as threatening others on November 30, 2021.
The morning of the incident, school staff met with Ethan’s parents to address a violent drawing found on his math assignment. Despite this discussion, Ethan’s parents opted not to take him home.
Hours later, he retrieved a 9mm gun from his backpack and opened fire inside the school. Jennifer Crumbley, 45, faces involuntary manslaughter charges.
Prosecutors allege that she and her husband were grossly negligent and could have prevented the tragedy by addressing their son’s mental health and securing the firearm at home.
Testimony primarily centered on the morning meeting, attended by Ejak, the parents, the teenager, and a counselor. The drawing, depicting a gun and troubling messages, prompted the school to convene the meeting.
Ejak explained that he lacked reasonable suspicion to search Ethan’s backpack as there were no signs of suspicious behavior or reports of possessing a weapon.
Ejak expressed surprise and concern at the parent’s decision not to address their son’s needs immediately.
Jennifer Crumbley’s workplace environment was highlighted by her employer, Andrew Smith, who described it as family-friendly, suggesting she could prioritize her son’s welfare.
The jury viewed police photos of the Crumbley home, revealing Ethan’s messy bedroom adorned with shooting range targets and an empty safe where the handgun had been stored.
Ejak testified that the parents failed to disclose crucial information, including James Crumbley’s recent purchase of the gun as a gift for Ethan.
As the day concluded, prosecutors played a video showing Jennifer Crumbley in a police car after the shooting, visibly distraught and struggling to comprehend the events.
James Crumbley, 47, will face trial separately in March. The couple’s prosecution is a rare instance of parents being charged in connection with a school shooting perpetrated by their child. Ethan, now 17, is serving a life sentence.