Rep. Debbie Dingell: Crumbley verdict ‘sent a chill down parents’ spines—and it should’

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., right, hugs Dr. Wendy Edmonds, left, who lost her sister to gun violence, during a news conference calling for Senate action on H.R. 8 - Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

By Bonnie Fuller

February 14, 2024

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a Democrat who represents Michigan’s 6th District, reacts to the Jennifer Crumbley verdict as the state’s new safe storage laws go into effect.

Update: 4:31 p.m. April 9, 2024—Both parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley were sentenced to at least 10 years in prison today. Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews said that “These convictions confirm repeated acts, or lack of acts, that could have halted an oncoming runaway train.” Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents in the US to be convicted in their child’s mass school shooting.

MICHIGAN—US Rep. Debbie Dingell did not mince words when asked by The ‘Gander for her reaction to the guilty verdict for Jennifer Crumbley, mother of Ethan Crumbley.

“I think it sent a chill down many parents’ spines, and it should. They were irresponsible in the storage of that gun,” Congresswoman Dingell said in an exclusive interview. 

On the morning of Nov. 30, 2021, a teacher at Oxford High School in Michigan found a violent drawing of a gun, bullet, and wounded man on Ethan Crumbley’s desk. Messages on the paper included, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” and “Blood everywhere.” 

School staff called Ethan’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, to a meeting that same morning. They declined to take Ethan home with them. A few hours later, Ethan pulled a 9 mm handgun from his backpack and shot 10 students and a teacher, killing four. James had bought the gun with Ethan just four days before the shooting. That same weekend, Jennifer took Ethan to a shooting range.  

“They knew that their son had mental health issues,” Dingell said. “From what I can tell, they did not try to get him the help that he needed.”

On Feb. 6, Jennifer was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter when a jury of her peers made the historic decision to hold her criminally responsible for the murderous actions of her son, then 15.

The verdict is considered a landmark since it’s the first time in American history that a parent has been held criminally responsible for the actions of their child who perpetrated a school shooting.

In December 2023, Ethan—now 17—was sentenced to life in prison without the opportunity for parole. He pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree murder and terrorism. 

“I’m hoping that verdict is going to save many other lives, because parents will think about making sure they have safe storage for guns in the home,” said Dingell, a Democrat who represents Michigan’s 6th District, about an hour southwest of Oxford. “And maybe parents who have children struggling with depression or being bullied will actually try to find the help that they need.”  

“There are children that need help, that are being bullied, that are struggling in a school setting. They have no friends. Their parents don’t pay attention. They’re too busy and they don’t get the help they need. And I think school systems and parents and their classmates have a responsibility to try to be empathetic, compassionate, aware, [and] stand up to bullying and hate wherever they see it.”

According to the Associated Press, a journal found by police showed that Ethan’s parents wouldn’t listen to his pleas for help. “I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the…school,” he wrote.

After being charged with involuntary manslaughter, James and Jennifer Crumbley missed their arraignment and hid in a warehouse to evade police.

Earlier this week, on Feb. 13, new gun safety legislation went into effect in Michigan. It includes new background checks, extreme risk protection orders, and safe storage laws. Public Act 17 of 2023 was specifically designed to keep guns out of the hands of children and teenagers, and includes criminal penalties of up to 15 years in prison for people who fail to secure guns that do end up in the possession of kids. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel was a major proponent of the new laws. “As the top law enforcement agent in the state of Michigan, and as a mother, I too am exasperated and disgusted that thousands of Michigan residents fall victim each year to the scourge of senseless, preventable gun violence in our state,” Nessel said. “These are practical and effective measures that are already saving lives in other states and will here as well.”

Firearm injuries are the leading cause of death of children in the US. So far in 2024, there have been 177 children ages 0-17 killed by gun violence. And in the first 45 days of the year, there have been 48 mass shootings—including one in Kansas City, Missouri, today, Feb. 14, during a Super Bowl celebration.

Jennifer Crumbley now faces up to 15 years in prison. Her sentencing is on April 9. James Crumbley’s trial begins in early March.

Read more: Another ‘big package’ of gun safety bills is coming to Michigan. Here’s what we know.


  • Bonnie Fuller

    Bonnie Fuller is the former CEO & Editor-in-Chief of, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USWeekly and YM. She now writes about politics and reproductive rights.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


MI Grand Rapids Food Voting

Local News

Related Stories
Share This