DETROIT – The parents of the suspected Oxford High School shooter appeared to have fled town Friday following news that they were to face charges in the shooting, and police say they were assisted by someone they knew.
James Crumbley, 45, and Jennifer Crumbley, 43, were arraigned Saturday morning on four counts of involuntary manslaughter each — but not before they had to be apprehended by police following a manhunt that stretched into Detroit.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald on Friday announced charges against the parents, who are accused of playing a role in the Nov. 30 mass shooting at Oxford High School. Police say the couple’s son, Ethan Crumbley, fired dozens of rounds during school hours that Tuesday, fatally striking four fellow students and injuring seven other people.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were set to be arraigned Friday afternoon, but they never appeared in court and police were unable to locate them. Shortly after police issued a “be on the lookout” alert for the Crumbleys, the couple’s attorneys — Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman — released a statement explaining their clients had left town, but planned to return. Throughout the arraignment Saturday, the attorneys maintained that the Crumbleys always intended to appear in court and were “never” fleeing prosecution.
Several law enforcement agencies carried out a search throughout Southeast Michigan for the couple on Friday. Police say the Crumbleys withdrew $4,000 from a bank in Rochester Hills during this time. Then, tips led Detroit police to where the couple appeared to be hiding: in a warehouse on the city’s east side, near the Rivertown neighborhood.
According to police, a business owner on Friday afternoon spotted the couple’s vehicle — a black 2021 Kia Seltos — in his parking lot on Bellevue Street near Jefferson Avenue. Jennifer Crumbley was reportedly seen near the vehicle by the business owner, and is said to have fled the area on foot after the 911 call was made.
The car was reportedly parked outside of a warehouse that is used as an art studio space. Detroit police said there was video footage that captured one of the fugitives entering the building, so they were confident that the pair was inside.
Detroit police arrived at the scene between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and set up a perimeter and conducted surveillance, White said. It was not immediately clear how long the couple had been inside the building before law enforcement arrived.
The Crumbleys were found to be hiding in a room inside the building. They were arrested and taken into police custody without incident just before 2 a.m. Saturday, officials said.
According to authorities, James and Jennifer Crumbley did not break into the commercial space, but rather were aided by someone who let them into the building. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Saturday afternoon that they had identified a person of interest, but didn’t plan to share that information yet.
Then, Sunday morning, the individual revealed themselves through a statement from their attorney.
Oakland County resident Andrzej Sikora, 65, operates a business inside the Detroit building where the Crumbleys appeared to be hiding out on Friday. The man’s attorney, Clarence Dass, issued the following statement Sunday on Sikora’s behalf:
“Mr. Sikora has not been charged with any crime. Nevertheless, upon learning of the Crumbleys’ arrest on December 4, 2021, he voluntarily contacted the Detroit Police Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to provide information,” the statement reads. “He maintains his innocence throughout this process and is fully cooperating with law enforcement to assist in their investigation.”
On Saturday, Chief White said that the person who aided the Crumbleys could be facing charges.
During his news conference Saturday, Sheriff Bouchard said there were early indications that someone helped James and Jennifer Crumbley to hide after it was publicly announced that there were warrants out for the couple. While the sheriff did not say if anyone was in custody yet for assisting the Crumbleys, he did say that no charges had been made against anyone as of Saturday afternoon.
Suggestions for potential charges could include aiding and abetting, or obstruction of justice, Bouchard said. The charging decision would come from the prosecutor’s office.
The relationship between the Crumbleys and building owner Sikora is unclear at this time.
Defense attorneys Smith and Lehman argued Saturday that they were not aware that the Crumbley’s arraignment hearing was scheduled for Friday. The couple’s representation argue that the pair left town for their own safety following the tragedy.
When asked if the couple was fleeing or intended to return for their arraignment, Chief White said, “I don’t know, but this isn’t indicative of turning yourself in, hiding in a warehouse.”
Due to the court’s concerns that the Crumbleys are potential flight risks, the couple is currently being housed at the Oakland County Jail with a bond of $500,000 each, no 10%. If they post bail, they will be required to wear GPS tethers, turn over all of their firearms to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to complying with several other stipulations.