Detroit PD prepared for school shooter's parents to flee to city: 'We weren't surprised'

After being charged with manslaughter, the couple fled and was arrested in Detroit – just as Chief James White expected

By Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Detroit Police Chief James White specifically prepared his police officers to get ready in case the parents of the Oxford High School shooting suspect — who are also criminally charged in the case — fled to Detroit, the Free Press learned Sunday.

"We literally talked about the possibility of Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley in the Oxford incident and the two of them actually being in our city," White said. "We actually debriefed that and talked about our metro division and our resources and what we would have in place should that happen. So, we weren't surprised."

Detroit Police Chief James White on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Detroit speaks about the arrest of James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, who is charged in the Oxford High School shooting.
Detroit Police Chief James White on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Detroit speaks about the arrest of James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, who is charged in the Oxford High School shooting. (Detroit Free Press)

James and Jennifer Crumbley, each charged Friday with four counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the shooting deaths of four students, were the focus of a multi-agency manhunt on Friday before being apprehended in a building at 1111 Bellevue St. near East Lafayette.

"This is policing. Anything could happen," White said. "We talked about our protocols. We talk about active shooters, and what we have in the field for active shooters should an active shooter happen. So we weren't surprised. We were prepared."

Detroit Police officers train every day, and they meet every Friday, White said.

Last week was no exception.

This combo photo shows James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley. 
This combo photo shows James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley.  (Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

"We call it our weekly crime debrief. What it actually is, is a debrief of the week and a prep for the upcoming week and talk through all current events," White said.

How it unfolded

Late Friday, the U.S. Marshals Service put out WANTED posters with a reward promising up to $10,000 for information that could lead to an arrest of James Crumbley and information that could lead to the arrest of Jennifer Crumbley, after they failed to show up for their arraignment.

Things started to unravel for the missing Oxford couple around 10 or 10:30 p.m. Friday, White said.

"This is what I know right now," he told the Free Press, describing what happened in the final hours leading to the arrest:

"We got a 911 tip that the vehicle was at that location. Our officers got there within minutes. They were able to ascertain the circumstances which led the vehicle to be in that location, in terms of the person pulling in and parking. They were able to confirm that was, in fact, the vehicle in question that we were looking for with Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley. At which time, our officers notified our metro division ... officers from seventh precinct, these were the first responders. A police officer from the 7th Precinct responded."

At that point, the chief of police was notified, he said.

"We activated a number of components at that point, our metro division, which houses our special response team and our K-9 came out. At one point, the vehicle was unoccupied. We brought in our K-9s and they did a quick track. They were able to track the fact that the perpetrator, or at least a person in the vehicle, was nearby. We brought out SRT ( Special Response Team). They set up a perimeter to shut down the entire perimeter so nothing could come in and nothing could come out. They notified the Michigan State Police. The U.S. Marshals came out. They started typing search warrants."

At that point, police reached the business owner and gained access to the building.

"The Special Response Team, along with the United States Marshals Service, went in. They swept each floor, or checked each floor. When they finally arrived at the location where Mr. and Mrs. Crumbly were, they (police) were able to quickly identify who they were visually, secure them and take them both into custody without further incident."

About 3 a.m., White held a news conference to review the circumstances of the case.

The case is being handled by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, and other agencies are doing and continue to offer support if and when needed, White said Sunday.

Finally, he wanted to emphasize an important message.

"My condolences to the Oxford community," White said Sunday. "We are still heartbroken, not only the department but our community.

[NEXT: Chilling video shows fear, chaos inside classroom after Oxford High School shooting]

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