The parents of a teenager accused of a school shooting in which four people died have been arrested after going missing.
James and Jennifer Crumbley had been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, but hours after the charges were announced, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said authorities were searching for them after their lawyer said they had stopped answering messages.
Mr and Mrs Crumbley are accused of buying their 15-year-old son Ethan a handgun used in the shooting as well as ignoring warning signs on the day of the shooting.
The couple were found in a commercial building that held “a lot of art and artwork” and are now being transported to Oakland County Jail.
Detroit Police Chief James E White said they “appeared to be hiding in the building” but were not armed.
“They certainly appeared to be distressed as you can imagine,” he said.
“They were in a commercial building in a room. We were able to take them into custody without incident.”
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- Ethan Crumbley
He said the Crumbley’s had been aided into the building, with a “very active” investigation looking into who might have helped them – but no one else has been taken into custody at this point.
He added: “We are going to use as much personnel as possible to bring the families in Oxford the closure that they need. It’s a very tragic incident that has touched not just this community, not just this state, but this country.
“We are tired of this. It is awful.”
Undersheriff Mike McCabe confirmed the “wanted fugitives” had been located after a business owner saw one of them in a parking lot on Bellevue in Detroit. A woman was spotted by the car, who “fled on foot” after the police were called.
The US Marshals Service had been offering a $10,000 reward for information that lead to their arrests after the attack in Michigan.
A later statement from the couple’s lawyers denied they were on the run and claimed they were returning to the area after leaving “for their own safety” on the night of the shooting.
Investigators said the handgun was purchased legally by Mr Crumbley last week – apparently as a Christmas present – and was “freely available” to the teenager.
Ethan is said to have posted images of the gun used in the shooting on social media, writing: “Just got my new beauty today” and adding a heart emoji, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said.
Mrs Crumbley posted the next day that they were “testing out his new Christmas present”.
School officials had grown concerned after a teacher had previously seen the teenager searching for ammunition on his phone during class, said Ms McDonald.
Yet when Jennifer Crumbley was contacted, she told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
Investigators also claim the Crumbleys failed to intervene on the day of the tragedy, despite being confronted with a drawing found in Ethan’s desk that showed a gun pointing at the words “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
There was also a drawing of a bullet, the prosecutor said, accompanied by the words “blood everywhere”.
Despite an emergency meeting – where the school told his parents to get Ethan into counselling within 48-hours – the Crumbleys failed to ask their son about the gun or check his backpack and “resisted the idea of him leaving school at that time”.
Instead, he returned to class and the shooting subsequently occurred.
When he heard about the shooting, Mr Crumbley called authorities to say he suspected his son was responsible after he drove home to look for the gun and found it missing.
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Ethan has been charged as an adult with crimes including murder, attempted murder and terrorism.
He is alleged to have emerged from a toilet and opened fire in a hallway. Seven students and a teacher were shot before he surrendered.
Three of the students died on Tuesday, and the fourth died on Wednesday.
They have been named as Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.