School counselor says Crumbley parents acted coldly toward son in meeting the morning of shooting

The couple faces charges of involuntary manslaughter in the Nov. 30 massacre.

February 24, 2022, 3:27 PM

When James and Jennifer Crumbley were called to Oxford High School on Nov. 30 after a school counselor warned them their son might be suicidal, they did not greet their son, hug him or take him home when urged to get him mental health care immediately, according to the counselor.

"I have never had parents arrive to the school and not take their student home," said the counselor, Shawn Hopkins, who testified Thursday at an ongoing hearing to determine whether the case of the couple, who are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the massacre that killed four students north of Detroit, will go before a jury. "I was taken aback."

Hopkins arranged the meeting after being alerted to drawings Ethan had made on a math assignment that morning which depicted a gun and the words "the thoughts won't stop," "help me" and "blood everywhere."

The parents "were not friendly or showing care to their student" when they showed up, noted Hopkins, who said they left without hugging their son or saying goodbye. According to Hopkins, the Crumbleys told him they couldn't leave with Ethan because they had to return to work.

Their son allegedly opened fire on classmates just hours later.

"I thought it was a really rough situation to be showing signs of needing help and support, and it felt like he got the opposite when I tried to get him that help and support," said Hopkins.

On Thursday, prosecutors also revealed disturbing messages Ethan texted a friend months before the shooting, in which he said he was having a "mental breakdown."

In April, Ethan wrote that his mother "doesn't care about my mental health" and that his parents "make me feel like I'm the problem." In another message, Ethan told a friend that when he asked his father if he could see a doctor, James gave him some pills and told him to "suck it up."

"I need help," he wrote in a later message. "I was thinking of calling 911 so I could go to the hospital, but then my parents would be really [upset]."

Oakland County prosecutors are attempting to prove there is probable cause to bring the case before a jury. They argue that James and Jennifer Crumbley were grossly negligent by ignoring or failing to see signs of their son's deteriorating mental health prior to the shooting.

The 15-year-old has been charged with multiple felonies, including terrorism, and is being charged as an adult in circuit court.