Michigan school shooter’s dad had his eye on new gun for ‘quite some time,’ shop worker says

James Crumbley becomes emotional during the testimony of Oxford High School educator Molly Darnell as he sits with his attorney Mariell Lehman on Thursday, March. 7, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich. James Crumbley, 47, is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each teenager killed by Ethan Crumbley at Oxford High School in 2021. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool)

James Crumbley becomes emotional during the testimony of Oxford High School educator Molly Darnell as he sits with his attorney Mariell Lehman on Thursday, March. 7, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich. James Crumbley, 47, is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each teenager killed by Ethan Crumbley at Oxford High School in 2021. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool)

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A gun shop employee testified Friday that the father of a Michigan school shooter knew what he was looking for when he bought a handgun shortly before the attack, telling her he’d had his “eye on it for quite some time.”

Cammy Back said James Crumbley was accompanied by his son, Ethan Crumbley, when he paid roughly $520 in cash, including tax, for the Sig Sauer 9 mm on Nov. 26, 2021.

“Mr. Crumbley asked to see the Sig Sauer, that he had his eye on it for quite some time,” Back testified.

The gun, which turned out to be Ethan’s murder weapon at Oxford High School, also came with a cable lock, though prosecutors said the lock was left unopened when they searched the Crumbley home after the mass shooting.

James Crumbley is on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four students killed four days after the gun purchase. He’s accused of failing to secure the gun at home and ignoring signs of Ethan’s mental distress.

Ethan referred to the gun as “my beauty” on social media. When he pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism, he said that his money was used to buy the gun. That detail hasn’t emerged in his father’s trial.

Earlier Friday, the sheriff’s office said James Crumbley’s use of a phone and tablet would be restricted after he used them to make “threatening statements” from jail.

Authorities didn’t elaborate on the threats. Neither did Judge Cheryl Matthews, who said he can use a phone or tablet only to communicate with his lawyer or clergy.

A gag order in the case bars attorneys from speaking to reporters.

James Crumbley, 47, isn’t accused of knowing beforehand that 15-year-old Ethan planned to shoot up Oxford High, but prosecutors allege that his gross negligence was a cause of the tragedy.

The shooter’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of the same involuntary manslaughter charges last month.

The Crumbleys are the first U.S. parents to be charged with having criminal responsibility for a mass school shooting committed by a child.

Ethan, now 17, is serving a life prison sentence for murder and terrorism.

Crime

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