Legal impacts for Colorado parents of Michigan school shooter's mom found guilty

Posted at 11:15 AM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 13:15:51-05

Jennifer Crumbley, whose son shot and killed four students at a Michigan high school in 2021, was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday.

It was a landmark verdict as Crumbley became the first parent to be held criminally responsible for a mass shooting committed by their child. Prosecutors said she and her husband bought the gun used in the shooting for their son. They said the parents did not properly store the weapon and Crumbley ignored warning signs of her son's mental health issues.

Jeremy Loew, a Colorado Springs defense attorney, said the conviction could open up doors to more parents being prosecuted for other crimes their children commit.

"It gives prosecutors in Colorado another avenue to prosecute cases beyond just the shooters. It opens up parents and family members to liability and culpability," he said.

He said an example of using this strategy for other crimes could be in the case of an opioid overdose. Loew said if a parent has prescription pain pills in a bathroom cupboard and their teenager takes them to sell to other kids at school, a parent could be held criminally responsible if someone overdosed and died after taking the pills.

Loew said Crumbley's guilty verdict should be a wake-up call for parents about safety and responsibility, especially when providing a weapon to a child.

“Parents need to be cognizant of their children's mental health and make sure that their mental health is intact before they're offering somebody a firearm," he said. "They should stop and think 'Should I buy my child this weapon?' Weapons are a very serious thing. They're meant to bring death, whether it's in self-defense or in hunting."

Crumbley's sentencing is set for April 9. Her attorneys are expected to appeal the guilty verdict.

What the verdict against Michigan school shooter's mother means for parents everywhere