Seattle family who knew Michigan school shooter says he was exposed to violence at young age

Dec 6, 2021, 3:39 PM
Michigan shooter...
People attend a vigil to honor those killed and wounded during the shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A Seattle-area woman whose son was once a friend of the recently accused Michigan school shooter says she questioned his mother and father’s parenting styles years ago.

Four students were killed and seven others injured on Nov. 30, when 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley allegedly opened fire with a pistol at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan. Crumbley has been charged in the shooting, and his parents were charged on Friday.

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Lori Dow told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show that her son would play with Ethan when they were 5-6 years old. At that time, the Crumbley family lived in Issaquah.

“We mentioned we were going to get our son home to go to bed and they said, ‘Oh, Ethan won’t go to bed for hours. He puts himself to bed,'” Dow said about Crumbley’s parents.

“He would just decide on his own bedtime, go to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning sometimes. If he was too tired for school, [his mom] would just call him in sick,” she added.

Dow says he seemed to be exposed to violence from a young age as well, from what she knew.

“He was watching horror, like pretty serious horror movies with his parents even at 5 years old, things like ‘Saw.’ He would play first-person shooter games, like Call of Duty, and that was perfectly fine with them,” she said.

Ethan’s family also had guns at the home, Dow explained, which her family found out after asking questions. The Crumbley family wasn’t comfortable, Dow says, sharing how the guns were secured, but she later found out they were not secured.

“He was essentially being treated just like another resident in the house and not a child that needed structure, and rules, and protection from violent things at that early age,” she said.

Dow said she never allowed her son to be at Ethan’s house without her or her husband present.

At school, Dow said Ethan started getting into fights at a young age and not listening to his teachers, which she says his mom blamed on the teachers.

She admitted that she was relieved when the family moved away, though they remained acquaintances through social media.

“I’m not a psychologist, but it was almost like he was being desensitized to feeling painful things or stressful situations,” Dow said, citing one video the parents posted to social media as an example.

In the video, Dow explains, Ethan’s parents told him he could earn $100 if he ate a huge spoonful of really hot horseradish without reacting or crying. Dow says as he was eating it, the parents would laugh.

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The Associated Press reports that a prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Crumbley parents, saying they failed to intervene on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a drawing and chilling message — “blood everywhere” — that was found at the boy’s desk.

James and Jennifer Crumbley committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to Ethan, to resisting his removal from school when they were summoned a few hours before the shooting, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said, as the AP reports.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Seattle family who knew Michigan school shooter says he was exposed to violence at young age