Ethan Crumbley’s parents were “acting in concert” with the suspected mass shooter when he killed four students inside a Michigan high school, the family of one of his victims said in a new lawsuit.
The parents of 16-year-old Tate Myre said in a lawsuit filed Thursday that James and Jennifer Crumbley are “equally responsible” to their son “for his violent assaults” inside Oxford High School.
Tate was fatally shot while trying to protect her classmates from the gunman who opened fire in the school hallway on November 30.
He died in a police car as officers took him to hospital for treatment.
At an emotional news conference Thursday, Tate’s father, William Myre, said there must be “responsibility” for his son’s death in what marked the 58th morning his family woke up without him.
“The ball was dropped, and there needs to be accountability here,” he said.
Myre fought back tears as she said: “Today is the 58th morning we woke up without Tater. Tomorrow will be 59, next will be 60, the rest of our lives.
“I was sad. They were hurt. … Our lives are forever changed. Our family will never be the same.”
The Myre family is one of three that have filed a lawsuit accusing Crumbley’s parents of willful, reckless and negligent conduct.
In the lawsuit, the families say the Crumbleys gave their 15-year-old son the gun used in the mass shooting, withheld information from the school about his troubling behavior, and refused to remove him from school despite multiple signs of alert.
They were cheering [Ethan Crumbley] show [the gun] and obtain ammunition for it, supporting his misuse of the firearm, as long as he was not caught, withholding all information from school officials regarding [Ethan Crumbley’s] mental disorders and violent propensities and refusing to remove EC from school when required to do so by school officials,” the lawsuit alleges.
“James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley were performing in concert with [Ethan Crumbley] and they are equally liable to him for his violent attacks and other intentional damages,” the suit says.
The families also accuse Oxford High School staff of gross negligence for “increasing the danger” posed by the suspect by failing to take action in light of his disruptive behaviour.
Several officials, including teachers and a counselor, are named as defendants along with Mr. Crumbley and his parents.
The lawsuit also revealed new details about the final moments of one of four other students killed in what was the worst high school shooting in the United States since 2018.
Justin Shilling, 17, was in the bathroom when Crumbley shot him in the head, killing him, according to the lawsuit.
Fellow student Keegan Gregory was hiding with Justin inside the bathroom and Mr. Crumbley ordered him out of hiding and onto the floor, the suit says.
Instead, Keegan managed to escape by running from the bathroom to safety and was physically unharmed in the massacre.
The suit says the teen is now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety and emotional distress.
His father, Chad Gregory, said at the news conference that his son “had such a serious injury, but he was invisible, so no one will know.”
Sophia and Grace Kempen, who are also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were hiding in classrooms when the gunman opened fire, the suit says.
The two sisters now suffer from “serious emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbances, nightmares, fear of attending school, inability to enjoy movies and games that repeat the Oxford shooting incident, and fear of sudden loud noises.” such as fireworks, and can be expected to continue to suffer such damage into the indeterminate future,” the suit says.
The lawsuit, seeking compensation of at least $25,000, comes just days after Oxford High School first reopened following Monday’s shooting.
It also came the same day that Crumbley’s attorneys said in a court document that the teen plans to plead insane over the shooting.
He will now undergo a psychiatric examination before any trial can take place.
He is charged as an adult with 24 counts, including four counts of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism.
Tate, Justin, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, were killed in the massacre and seven others were injured.
Both Crumbley’s parents and school officials have come under fire for failing to stop the suspect from carrying out the deadly attack after prosecutors revealed a disturbing pattern of behavior in the days and weeks before it happened.
The day before the shooting, the suspect was caught by a teacher searching the classroom for ammunition, prosecutors said.
School staff contacted the Crumbleys but they allegedly ignored the messages.
Then, on the morning of the shooting, authorities said another teacher found a drawing on the teen’s desk of a gun, a bullet and a person being shot.
“Thoughts won’t stop, help me” and “blood everywhere” were scrawled on the note.
At that time, his parents were called to the school and a meeting was held with them, their son, and school officials.
The teen claimed the drawings were simply designs for a video game, according to school officials.
His parents fought to get him back in class, prosecutors said, telling them to get him counseling within 48 hours. Just a few hours later, he allegedly opened fire at the school.
Days after the shooting, prosecutors took the unprecedented step of charging the teen’s parents with the mass shooting.
The couple allegedly bought the gun used in the attack, a Sig Sauer 9mm, Model SP 2022, for their son as a Christmas present four days earlier on Black Friday and left the gun accessible to him.
His parents then failed to remove him from school or take any action despite warning signs about his behavior, prosecutors said.
However, when news of the shooting spread, Jennifer Crumbley allegedly texted her son “Ethan, don’t do it,” authorities said.
In a strange turn of events, the couple appeared to be on the run after prosecutors announced the charges against them.
They were tracked down and arrested while hiding in a Detroit warehouse, where they had allegedly withdrawn $6,600 in cash, sold their horses and bought four burner phones.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested and charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter and have pleaded not guilty.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.