James Crumbley, father of school gunman, threatened prosecutor

James Crumbley, father of school gunman, threatened prosecutor

Threatened with physical violence by the father of the Oxford High School shooter, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald says she was undeterred in fighting for victims’ families.

In a sit-down interview with Scripps News Detroit covering a range of topics following two separate jury trials and guilty verdicts against James and Jennifer Crumbley, McDonald opened up about what’s taken place since the deadly school shooting at Oxford High School in November of 2021.

“I’m not going to let anything stop me from prosecuting and advocating for victims,” said McDonald.

Both parents were convicted of involuntary manslaughter for failing to secure a gun used by their son, and failing to give ordinary care to get him help, resulting in deaths of four students and injuries to others.

“It’s about those victims and kids,” she said. In court, McDonald personally demonstrated just one of the safeguards parents could have used but didn’t. “I’m not an expert in firearms, but it took around 10 seconds to apply the cable lock,” she said.

Since the end of trial, McDonald has confirmed threats made by James Crumbley from jail were directed at her, and while she’s stopped short of publicly releasing them, Scripps News Detroit asked and was granted a chance to hear them off camera. Crumbley stated he was coming for the prosecutor and referencing her “going to hell.”

“He actually said that he hoped I was listening when he threatened me physically,” she said.

McDonald continued, “One of the most disturbing threats was January of 2024, that was the same month, the first day of trial was set for one of the defendants. I consider that recent.”

Professor of law at University of Detroit Mercy and former federal prosecutor Adam Wright also addressed the steps taken to keep everyone safe in court.

“The way Karen McDonald handled this was the right way. This isn’t a personal vendetta,” said Wright.

He added, “The sheriff’s office handled it the way it should have been handled.”

In court, prosecutors asked for a court order limiting Crumbley to only communicating with his attorney.

Scripps News Detroit also asked McDonald about letters given to a counselor and dean of students, who gave key testimony.

“The only thing we are required to give to defense, is any agreement that gives a witness a plea deal or immunity in exchange for testimony under oath to prove our case. That was not done,” McDonald said.

Scripps News Detroit verified that with the counselor’s attorney.

As for how this case could spark more change, McDonald says she’s not done supporting the Oxford families.

“Most of us don’t need to be told that if you are called to the school and see ‘help me, blood everywhere, the world is dead’ with a gun drawn, and you never tell them you got a gun and leave, most don’t need a message like that,” said McDonald.

Scripps News Detroit filed a FOIA request for recordings of threats the prosecutor says were made by James Crumbley, along with copies of agreements offered to the counselor and deal. The prosecutor says the request is under review.

This story was originally published by Simon Shaykhet at Scripps News Detroit.