A Michigan teenager calmly confessed in court on Monday to killing four fellow students and injuring seven others during a shooting rampage at his high school last November.
The teenager, Ethan Crumbley, answered, “Yes, sir,” to a series of questions posed to him by Judge Kwame Rowe as he pleaded guilty to 24 counts, including murder, attempted murder, terrorism and weapons violations, stemming from the shooting at Oxford High School.
As the families of victims listened in the crowded Oakland County courtroom, the defendant, now 16, also made a disclosure that could play a role in his parents’ pending criminal case on charges of involuntary manslaughter: The gun, he said, “was not locked.”
The defense attorneys for the teenager’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, had previously said that the gun was secured. The parents have pleaded not guilty.
While it is rare for parents to be prosecuted in connection with their children’s crimes, Karen D. McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor, said last year that the Crumbleys’ conduct led her to a decision to prosecute them, despite the uphill legal battle.
Ethan Crumbley also said during the hearing on Monday that he had asked his father to purchase the semiautomatic 9-millimeter Sig Sauer handgun used in the Oxford school shooting for him. Previously, the gun had been described as an early Christmas present. But in court, the teenager said that he had given his father the money for the gun, which was purchased on Nov. 26, four days before the shooting.
The defendant admitted on Monday to murdering Tate Myre, 16; Justin Shilling, 17; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Hana St. Juliana, 14, as well as injuring seven other people, including six students and a teacher.
He appeared in court under heavy security, wearing orange prisoners’ garb issued by the Oakland County Jail, where he has been held for the past year. Visibly taller than he was last year, with longer hair, he confirmed that no promises had been made to him. He faces up to life in prison without parole, but his sentencing will not take place until next year.
His parents, who were not in the courtroom, are being held separately in the same facility.
Lawyers for the teenager had indicated in January that their client had planned to pursue an insanity defense, a difficult plea to prove under Michigan law. Then last week, prosecutors said that he would enter a guilty plea to all counts.
It was also confirmed during the hearing on Monday that the defendant had concealed his new gun in a backpack the day of the shooting, along with 50 rounds of ammunition. At around noon, he loaded the gun in a school restroom and emerged shooting.
Earlier in the day, his parents had been called to school.
A guidance counselor testified in hearings earlier this year that he had summoned the couple and urged them to seek counseling for their son, who had been discovered in class with violent drawings of a gun, a bloody figure and the words “help me” and “my life is useless.”
The parents were the subject of an intense manhunt after they failed to turn themselves in to face charges. They were taken into custody in a commercial building in Detroit, where the police said they had appeared to be hiding.