The parents of an alleged school shooter are in custody after authorities said they tried to flee, but investigators are still looking into whether anyone helped them. Enter artist Andrzej Sikora, 65. Authorities want to talk to him about James Crumbley, 45, and Jennifer Crumbley, 43, because they were found in his studio. Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said that an interview is likely to take place Monday, according to The Detroit News. Sikora’s attorney denies wrongdoing, reportedly saying his client had not known about the charges against the couple.
The Crumbley parents allegedly fled after being charged Friday with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter in Michigan. They were accused of buying a gun for their 15-year-old son Ethan Crumbley, who ended up allegedly using it to open fire at Oxford High School last Tuesday. Four students died after the teenager “methodically and deliberately” walked down a hallway, aiming and shooting: Hana St. Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.
Instead of turning themselves in for arraignment Friday, James and Jennifer Crumbley allegedly fled town, and were found overnight Saturday in a Detroit-area building that Detroit Police Chief James E. White said housed “artwork.”
It was Sikora’s studio. The artist’s attorney Clarence Dass said that the Crumbley parents went to Sikora’s studio Friday morning, but that his client did not know about the charges against them, or that they stayed after he left. The artist had had a “friendly relationship” with the couple, Dass said.
“There was a lot of confusion and the Crumbleys went to him for safety,” Dass said, according to The Associated Press. “He didn’t know about the charges. They were there in the daytime. He left in the early evening. He didn’t even know they were still there.”
Sikora learned Saturday of law enforcement arresting the couple, and he voluntarily contacted authorities, Dass said.
The Crumbleys are accused of turning a blind eye as school officials told them about their son’s disturbing behavior before the shooting. Their son allegedly looked up ammo on his phone and wrote disturbing letters in which he appeared to contemplate violence with a gun. But school officials are under scrutiny too for letting Ethan Crumbley stay in school when they had a meeting Tuesday morning with him and his parents before the shooting.
“While both of his parents were present, counselors asked specific probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others,” school superintendent Tim Throne said in a letter released Saturday. “His answers, which were affirmed by his parents during the interview, led counselors to again conclude he did not intend on committing either self-harm or harm to others. The student’s parents never advised the school district that he had direct access to a firearm or that they had recently purchased a firearm for him.”
Ethan Crumbley said that the disturbing drawing and statements were for a video game he was designing, Throne said.
“Following yesterday’s press conference by the Oakland County Prosecutor, many of our parents have understandably been asking for the school’s version of events leading up to the shooting,” Throne said. “It’s critically important to the victims, our staff and our entire community that a full and transparent accounting be made. To that end, I’ve asked for a third-party investigation be conducted so we leave no stone unturned, including any and all interaction the student had with staff and students.”
A judge has entered a not guilty plea on the teenage Crumbley’s behalf. The Crumbley parents pleaded not guilty Saturday morning to the counts of involuntary manslaughter. The couple’s attorneys have disputed allegations that the elder Crumbleys were trying to dodge law enforcement, saying that the couple feared for their own safety.
[Booking photos via Oakland County Jail]
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