Accused Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley’s violent messages and drawings that raised concerns just hours before he allegedly shot and killed four of his schoolmates have been seen by the public for the first time after being filed by prosecutors in the case against his parents, who are also being charged in connection with the shooting.
Prosecutors say that the 15-year-old’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, did nothing when they were summoned to Oxford High School earlier in the day of Nov. 30 to discuss the unsettling drawings and messages, which their son scribbled over an assignment on congruent triangles.
Around drawings of a gun, bullets and a figure laying on the ground, bleeding, the teen had allegedly written, “The thoughts won’t stop, help me,” “the world is dead” and “blood everywhere.”
He later appeared to cover up the dark doodles by scribbling over some of the drawings and messages and writing sarcastically happy messages like “I love my life so much!” “harmless act,” and “[We’re] all friends here.”
The New York Post reported that the images were filed along with other documents as prosecutors argued against reducing Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley’s bond from $500,000 to $100,000 as they face charges for involuntary manslaughter.
“What is novel about this case is that [the parents] were made aware, in graphic form, of the serious risk posed by their son prior to the shooting,” the documents read. “This is not a case of hindsight, where parents later wish they could have done something. These parents could have done something.”
Prosecutors say that the Crumbleys enabled the shooting by purchasing their son a gun as they simultaneously ignored signs that he was struggling with his mental health.
The court documents explain that, knowing Ethan’s only friend had recently moved away, that his dog had died and that he expressed mental instability to his mother, the parents not only paid more attention to their horses, drug addictions and extramarital affairs than they did to their struggling son but also purchased him a Sig Sauer 9mm as a gift, which they kept in an unlocked bedroom drawer.
The signs were everywhere.
“Their son was torturing animals, even leaving a baby birds’ head in a jar on his bedroom floor, which he later took and placed in a school bathroom,” the document also notes.
Then, when called to the school over the concerning drawings the morning of the shooting, these parents reportedly “flatly refused” to take him home with them, according to WZZM-TV, and, as prosecutors say, made no mention of the firearm to school administrators, much less checked to see if Ethan might have taken it to school with him or, more importantly, if it was on him at school.
It is also worth noting that, as school administrators were fully aware that he had both been looking up ammo at school and drawing disturbing images of guns and violent shootings, it seems that they did not check his backpack to see if he had any weapons, either.
This is very grim stuff.
It’s easy enough to criticize the Crumbleys. If what they are accused of is true, they seriously failed their son, to say the very least.
It’s harder to face facts that this dysfunctional family is merely symptomatic of a much larger cultural problem, and it has little if nothing to do with the availability of firearms and everything to do with a widespread crisis in parenting and failure to minister to the needs of our children.
We live in a society that force-feeds children and teenagers media filled with gratuitous violence, sex, self-indulgence, drug use and disregard for family, authority, law enforcement, religion and other cohesive social institutions.
We are in the midst of a crippling youth mental health crisis, one we hardly ever talk about as more politically advantageous narratives are pushed, including narratives that decidedly destroy, rather than build up, the strength of the family unit.
What’s worse, we only seem to pay attention to mentally ill youth when they shoot up their schools because school shootings are ratings gold to the mainstream media and offer easy propagandizing for gun control advocates.
What’s wrong with what the Crumbleys are accused of is not merely that they bought their son a gun. It’s that they allegedly knew their son was suffering, they knew their son had violent fantasies, they knew, in short, that he needed parents and needed attention and needed intervention and yet, as prosecutors say, they were so utterly absorbed in their own lives that they didn’t bother to parent their own kid.
Now, it has cost four children their lives. Five, if you include their son, who will likely now spend the rest of his life behind bars because he was allegedly neglected in the sickest way.
With this shooter and with the Parkland, Florida, shooter, we had two severely mentally ill young men who were seemingly abandoned in the system, the adults around them unresponsive to glaring red flags and deafening alarm bells, and we blame the weapon for what happened?
School safety activist Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed by accused Parkland mass shooter Nikolas Cruz, has long argued that it was not permissive gun laws, but the adults in Cruz’s life who are to blame for the fact that his mental health went unaddressed and he was ultimately able to purchase a firearm.
Beginning when he was just a toddler, concerns were raised over Cruz’s psychiatric state, and even as he lashed out violently and attempted suicide as a young man, he was still never sent for treatment or arrested, which likely would have prevented him from purchasing a firearm under Florida state law as it was already written.
Despite being finally placed in a specialized school for students with behavioral health issues in 2014, he was ultimately sent to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, a regular high school, in 2016.
“There were laws in place that would have prevented the shooting and they weren’t followed through. He wasn’t arrested. We don’t need new laws, let’s just put the ones in place and enforce the ones that are in place,” Pollock told The Western Journal in 2020.
“There are hundreds if not thousands of students like Nikolas Cruz across the country. But they do not do what he did because we reach them. We help them or we stop them,” Pollack wrote in the book he co-authored with Mark Eden, “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.”
“Every institution around Cruz, especially the school system, failed,” the authors asserted. “He did not have to become a mass murderer.”
There are millions of firearms across America at this moment that sit, inert and inanimate, posing absolutely no threat because they are owned by mentally sound, law-abiding citizens with absolutely no intention whatsoever of using them against their fellow man for any reason other than self-defense.
Contrary to many narratives about gun violence, many of these firearms also peacefully co-exist with teenage boys in the house by virtue of the fact that the young men are not only well-trained in firearm safety, but are being raised to abhor senseless violence, value human life and take responsibility for their own actions by present parents who take their duty in their children’s lives seriously.
You can’t properly instill children with a strong sense of right and wrong if you do not show up to provide them with the worldview in which such critical moral fundamentals are key, and, what’s more, live according to these objective codes yourself.
Schools simply can’t step into a child’s life to ensure that he is being raised with a moral compass, no matter who much today’s school administrators seem to think it is their job to shape a child’s worldview oftentimes in spite of their parents.
Blaming the Oxford High School shooting on the gun simply absolves society of the responsibility to do anything about the countless other young men out there who might also be suffering from unaddressed mental distress who have progressed to the point of being a danger to those around them as well as themselves.
It’s not just school shooters; those are just the ones who make the news. Young men (and women, too) are out there committing sexual assault, organized mass looting, violently beating and mugging their peers, joining gangs, doing drugs and generally disgracing themselves, their fellow image-bearers and society as a whole.
For how much longer are we going to live in a society where humans are told that they came from nothing and that their life means nothing, and to rage, yell and demand that things are accommodated to suit their liking instead of encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and serve those around them?
Adults are failing their children as they fail to fear their God. Whether its parents, school officials or politicians who happily capitalize on the terror of school shootings to further policy that won’t do a thing to address the deeper causes behind the school shooting phenomenon, nor the social ills that are destroying our youth on a daily basis yet aren’t so salacious for media headlines.
Banning guns in response to the school shooting phenomenon would just put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Because the wound that is afflicting our society goes much, much deeper.