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Parents of Michigan high school shooter returned to work on day of deadly rampage, counselor testifies

Jennifer Lynn Crumbley, the mother of Ethan Crumbley, is pictured in her booking photo as released by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office on December 4, 2021. At her manslaughter trial Tuesday, her employer testified that she returned to work the day of the shooting after meeting with school counselors over "disturbing" images Ethan had drawn. Photo courtesy of Oakland County Sheriff's Office/UPI

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Testimony in the manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the Michigan mother of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley who killed four students in 2021, continued Tuesday as her employer and a school counselor both testified she chose to return to work the day of the shooting instead of taking care of her son.

Andrew Smith, chief executive officer of real estate firm Princeton Management, testified that Jennifer Crumbley had taken the morning off to meet with school counselors over some disturbing pictures Ethan had drawn on a math worksheet. Shortly after she had returned to the office, Smith testified that he saw Jennifer Crumbley running down the hall to tell him there was an active shooter at her son's school.

"Like yelling, screaming-type noise coming from down the hall," Smith said.

"I recall her saying there was an active shooter at her child's school and I remember saying, 'Go, go!'"

According to texts submitted during Tuesday's hearing, Crumbley texted Smith that "the gun is gone and so are the bullets," before sending another text pleading for her job.

A memorial is outside of Oxford High School, days after 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley killed four classmates before surrendering to police at Oxford, High School in Oxford, Michigan in December 2021. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE
A memorial is outside of Oxford High School, days after 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley killed four classmates before surrendering to police at Oxford, High School in Oxford, Michigan in December 2021. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE

"I need my job. Please don't judge me for what my son did," according to evidence of the texts. Smith testified that he was "surprised" by the texts and said Crumbley was fired from her job days after the shooting.

Jennifer Crumbley is charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces up to 15 years in prison for her alleged role in the shooting due to her son's access to guns inside the family home. Her defense attorneys have said she had no knowledge of the guns or where they were stored.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, is pictured in his booking photo as released by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office on December 1, 2021. Crumbley is serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for the deaths of four students at Oxford High School near Detroit. Photo courtesy of Oakland County Sheriff's Office/UPI
Ethan Crumbley, 15, is pictured in his booking photo as released by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office on December 1, 2021. Crumbley is serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for the deaths of four students at Oxford High School near Detroit. Photo courtesy of Oakland County Sheriff's Office/UPI

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for using a semi-automatic handgun to kill four students at his high school in November 2021. His father, James, who Jennifer Crumbley says was responsible for safely securing the weapons, faces a tentative March 5 trial date.

The manslaughter trial is the first of its kind in the United States to hold either parent accountable in a school shooting.

Det. Sgt. Matthew Peschke, of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, also testified Tuesday and said he detained Jennifer Crumbley in the back of a patrol car after the shooting.

Peschke testified that Crumbley said she and her husband had fought with their son the night before over his grades, but that "there was nothing abnormal" when he went to school the next morning.

According to Peschke's testimony, Crumbley said, "I know my son was the one that shot the school," adding that her husband returned home upon hearing of an active shooter at the school and found the gun missing, before calling police.

Crumbley told police her son had never been in trouble and that "he's a good kid," according to Peschke.

Det. Adam Stoyek of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office testified deputies found an empty gun case and an empty box of ammunition on the master bedroom bed the day of the shooting.

Stoyek also testified that they found targets with bullet holes inside the house and said the code to open the gun safe was 0-0-0, according to Ethan's father James Crumbley.

In other testimony Tuesday, Oxford High School Dean of Students Nicholas Ejak testified that the school is facing civil lawsuits because the shooter's backpack was never searched, despite school officials' concerns about Ethan and the impromptu parent conference.

"There was no reasonable suspicion to search the backpack," Ejak testified while also expressing alarm over Ethan's drawing on a math worksheet that said, "Blood everywhere."

"That's what stood out to me," he added.

Ejak said despite expressed concerns about suicide, neither parent wanted to take their son home the day of the shooting because they had to go back to work.

"I found that odd," Ejak testified, adding that Jennifer Crumbley promised him she would get her son help within 48 hours.

Ethan "did not pose a threat to the school," he said. "There was no threat present."