Parents Increasingly Held Responsible for Conduct of Their Children in Shootings

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes |

Michigan Mother Convicted of Manslaughter

A Michigan mother was convicted of manslaughter due to her son, Ethan Crumbley, shooting and killing four classmates in a 2021 school shooting when he was 15 years old. Jennifer Crumbley and her husband James, who has a separate trial scheduled in March, are believed to be the first parents to be charged with manslaughter in connection to a mass shooting committed by their child, as prosecutors grapple with increasing levels of school and mass shootings across the country. Prosecutors say she and her husband had a duty to stop her son from harming others, alleging that the mother should have known her son was a risk to others and is thus criminally liable for his conduct. On the day of the shooting, the school and the parents had had a meeting after discovering a violent drawing, but her son was allowed to return to class where he pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot 10 other students and a teacher. His father had recently purchased the firearm and his mother had taken her son to the gun range to educate him on how to use the gun the weekend before the mass shooting took place. Although the mother claimed she did not know her son was a danger or that he had stolen the gun, prosecutors pointed to a journal recovered by law enforcement where the teenager wrote, ““I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the … school” and texts about hearing voices from the teenager to his mother’s cellphone. Although prosecutors were given a gag order by the judge, one of the parents of a victim said to reporters after the verdict, “The cries have been heard, and I feel this verdict is gonna echo throughout every household in the country.”

Highland Park Shooter’s Father Pleads Guilty for Role in Helping Son Obtain Gun

Just last year, the father of suspected gunman Robert Crimo III, Robert Crimo Jr., was sentenced to 60 days in jail in Lake County as part of a plea deal for assisting his son in obtaining a Firearms Owner Identification Card (by sponsoring him when underage) and the firearms alleged to have been used in a July 4th parade mass shooting in Highland Park that shook the country by sponsoring the purchase of the AR-15 used in the shooting. His son has pled not guilty and a trial date has been set for February 26, 2024. The father filled out the consent form that eventually allowed his son to buy the AR-15 style weapon that was allegedly used in the shooting because under Illinois law his son was too young to apply for his own gun license. Prosecutors have previously said that Mr. Crimo knew that his son had previously threatened himself and others when he sponsored his son for the gun application, which enabled the alleged mass shooting to take place. “There have been very few parents who have been held responsible for their children — that era has come to an end,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said after the sentence was handed down. It is anticipated that other prosecutors across the United States will follow these examples and seek to prosecute parents of other mass shooters and teenagers who misuse firearms.


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