5 Cases When Parents Were Convicted After a Shooting by Their Child

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A jury on Thursday found James Crumbley partially responsible for the deadliest school shooting in Michigan’s history. Mr. Crumbley’s son, Ethan, killed four people and injured seven more at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit on Nov. 30, 2021.

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, later pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree murder, and was sentenced last year to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Crumbley’s wife, Jennifer, was convicted of identical charges of involuntary manslaughter last month. They were the first parents in the country to be directly charged for the deaths caused by a child in a mass shooting at a school.

Here is a look at their case and others in which parents have been found criminally liable after a shooting by their child.

Ms. Crumbley, 45, was convicted on Feb. 6 on four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the four students who were killed. She and her husband had given their son the pistol he used in the shooting as a gift.

Ms. Crumbley faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; sentencing is scheduled for April 9.

The historic verdict in her case was built on evidence that included text messages and the accounts of a meeting with school officials just hours before the shooting, which jurors felt proved she should have known the mental state of her son. Ethan did not testify in his either of his parents’ trials.

But in the case of Mr. Crumbley, 47, the testimony focused more on the Sig Sauer pistol that he bought his son as an early Christmas present, just four days before the shooting.

Robert Crimo Jr. pleaded guilty to seven misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct for his role in helping his son own firearms, including a high-powered rifle that the authorities say was used in an attack on the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., in 2022.

His son, Robert Crimo III, is accused of killing seven people at the parade. He was 21 at the time, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

In Illinois, which has some of the strictest gun restrictions in the country, most firearms owners must first get a gun license, called a firearm owner’s identification card, which is issued by the Illinois State Police. Mr. Crimo sponsored his son’s FOID card.

The elder Mr. Crimo, prosecutors said, ignored obvious signs that his son was capable of violence: In 2019, months before the gun license was acquired, a family member contacted the authorities, reporting that the younger Mr. Crimo had threatened to “kill everyone.” Police officers removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the home but decided that there was not probable cause to arrest him at that time.

Robert Crimo III later bought several weapons, including a high-powered rifle. On July 4, 2022, he climbed onto the roof of a building in downtown Highland Park, Ill., and opened fire on the parade crowd, the authorities said.

His father received a sentence of 60 days in jail — but was released halfway through — along with two years of probation and 100 hours of public service. He had to surrender his own guns, ammunition and his permit to own firearms. And he will not be allowed to sponsor an application for a gun permit.

Deja Taylor, 26, the mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher in a classroom, was sentenced on Dec. 15 to two years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of felony child neglect.

Earlier, she was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison after pleading guilty to using marijuana while owning a firearm and making false statements about drug use. Federal laws prohibit addicted or “unlawful” drug users from owning a gun. The two sentences will be served consecutively.

The shooting took place on Jan. 6, 2023, when the child, a student at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., took out the gun, aimed it and fired at his teacher, the police said. The teacher, Abigail Zwerner, was seriously injured by the single bullet that passed through her hand and struck her chest.

The child, who was not charged, is in the custody of his great-grandfather.

Jeffrey Reinking, the father of a man who fatally shot four people and wounded four more at a Waffle House in Nashville in 2018, was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison for illegally providing his son a weapon that was used in the shooting.

Travis Reinking, who was 29 at the time of the attack, was already known to the authorities. In Illinois, where he lived for most of his life before moving to Nashville, the police revoked his firearms license and ordered that his guns be transferred to his father.

The police said that the elder Mr. Reinking returned the guns to his son, enabling him to carry out the killings. One weapon, an AR-15, was used in the shooting. Officers had advised Jeffrey Reinking that “he might want to lock the guns back up until Travis gets mental help.” Mr. Reinking had said that he would do that, the police said.

Travis Reinking, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2022 and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

A federal jury in Seattle convicted Raymond Fryberg, of illegally owning six firearms, including a Beretta that his 14-year-old son used to kill four classmates and himself. Though the elder Mr. Fryberg was not charged in the shooting, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

Investigators determined that a prior restraining order against the father should have prohibited him from buying the gun, but the order was never entered in the federal database.

His son, Jaylen, took his father’s handgun to school in his backpack, then opened fire on a group of classmates whom he had texted to meet him, the authorities said. He shot five classmates, four fatally, before he turned the gun on himself.


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