A Michigan school official told jurors Tuesday that he felt he had no grounds to search the backpack of a teenager before the boy fatally shot four fellow students, even though staff met with the teen’s parents that morning to discuss a violent drawing he had scrawled on a math assignment.
Nick Ejak, who was in charge of discipline at Oxford High School, said he was concerned about Ethan Crumbley’s mental health but did not consider him to be a threat to others on Nov. 30, 2021.
After the meeting about the drawing, the teen’s parents declined to take their son home. A few hours later, he pulled a 9mm gun from his backpack and shot 11 people inside the school.
Jennifer Crumbley, 45, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say she and her husband were grossly negligent and could have prevented the four deaths if they had tended to their son’s mental health. They’re also accused of making a gun accessible at home.
Much of Ejak’s testimony focused on the meeting that morning, which included him, the parents, the boy and a counselor. The school requested the meeting after a teacher found the drawing, which depicted a gun and a bullet and the lines, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. The world is dead. My life is useless.”
Ejak said he didn’t have reasonable suspicion to search the teen’s backpack, such as nervous behavior or allegations of vaping or possessing a weapon.
“None of that was present,” he told the jury, adding that the drawing also didn’t violate the school’s conduct code.
Ejak said he found it “odd” and “strange” that Jennifer and James Crumbley declined to immediately take their son home.
“My concern was he gets the help he needs,” Ejak said.
He said the parents didn’t disclose that James Crumbley had purchased a gun as a gift for Ethan just four days earlier. Ejak also didn’t know about the teen’s hallucinations.
“Those were all things that would have changed the process,” Ejak said.
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