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Former Oxford school dean, Jennifer Crumbley's colleagues testify on day 4 of her trial

Posted at 9:01 AM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-30 20:41:28-05

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Testimony continued Tuesday for the trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Oxford High School shooter.

Crumbley is facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter after the shooting that killed four students and injured several others.

DEAN OF STUDENTS TESTIFIES

Tuesday morning, Nick Ejak, the dean of students at the high school at time of the shooting, took the stand.

He said he was first alerted about the shooter a few days before the incident via email — after a teacher caught the student looking up bullets in class, but another administrator dealt with the concern that day.

Then the day of the shooting, Ejak said he was sent another email about an inappropriate drawing the student made on a math assignment depicting a gun, bullets and writing the words “blood everywhere” and “the thoughts won’t stop help me.”

When the shooter's parents were called, Ejak recalled Crumbley asking her son by phone why he drew the messages.

“My understanding was we would discuss moving forward with additional help that afternoon... and he would be leaving from the parent meeting with his parents,” Ejak said.

It was also revealed that Crumbley and her husband got into an argument with their son the night before the shooting and locked him out of the house.

Day 4 of trial for Jennifer Crumbley, mom of Oxford High School shooter, continues

Ejak said he was a part of the emergency meeting with Jennifer and her husband James Crumbley that soon followed the drawing. He said that because the shooter was showing signs of a mental health issue, discipline for the drawing did not seem like appropriate action.

Ejak also said technically, the drawing and search for bullets did not go against the schools code of conduct.

The defense seemingly pointed out that the school also did not see the shooter as a threat to others even hours before the shooting despite the drawing, bullet search and having teachers describe some of his previous work as “violent leaning.”

"His parents confirmed the things (the shooter) was sharing with us... that supported him feeling sad. He had shared that the dog had passed away recently, a grandmother had passed away and then one of his close friends had moved," Ejak said.

He also shared the parents did not mention that they brought a gun for their son. Ejak also said he had "no reasonable suspicion to search" the shooter's backpack.

"It sort of seemed like it ended abruptly. It was a very short meeting. I want to say it was somewhere near 10 minutes long," he said. "Once it was determined that they were not going to take him home, it was stated that he would end up having to walk home if he was going home and then be by himself."

Examining day 4 of Jennifer Crumbley's trial with Court TV

Ejak said that Jennifer Crumbley refused to get mental health treatment that day for her son, saying she had to go back to work, which the dean of students said he was surprised to hear.

“Typically when it’s recommended that parents take their children to seek out mental assistance immediately, they follow the directions of the mental health professional, and that’s been my experience every time,” Ejak said.

FORMER COLLEAGUES TAKE THE STAND

Jurors then heard from two people who worked with Jennifer Crumbley, including her former boss Andrew Smith. Jennifer Crumbley worked at a real estate company.

Smith said she had opportunities to work from home and could have addressed any issues with her son.

“We had a property visit scheduled that afternoon that she was invited to,” Smith said, adding that she was not required to attend and it would not have been a problem for her to leave work.

Craig Shilling, the father of Justin Shilling, one of the students killed, spoke to 7 Action News at the courthouse on Tuesday.

"Certain things take priority over work for sure. And my family is one of them. It wouldn't matter what I was doing at work," Craig Shilling said.

Former colleagues said when Jennifer Crumbley returned from the school meeting, she said she felt she was a failure of a parent. But the defense argued she made that statement in jest and soon after had a strong reaction after hearing of the shooting.

"I saw her run out of the office in panic… I heard her yelling, screaming that she had to leave," Smith said.

EVENTS FOLLOWING SHOOTING

The court got an inside look at the Crumbley household. Officers say they found multiple BB guns, knives and targets in the shooter's two bedrooms hours after the school shooting took place.

A 49-minute video was also shown of Jennifer Crumbley in the back of a police car as officers searched her home. Prosecutors wanted jurors to take notes of her demeanor from surveillance video taken inside the vehicle.

"When we found out there was an active shooter James came home. He opened the gun box. The gun's gone, and we had the bullets hidden in two separate spots," Jennifer Crumbley is heard saying on the surveillance video.

She's also heard telling police that her son is a great kid and doesn't have any issues. She told them that she never got a good look at her son's drawings, after she met with school officials that morning.

The last witness to take the stand on Tuesday was Robert Koteles, a lead investigator with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office who focuses on crime scenes.

He walked the court through the protocol he followed after the shooting. After an initial walk-through, tasks were delegated to members of his team.

Photographs and a 3D scan of the crime scene were taken to document evidence including where bodies were found. A blueprint of the school with blue pen markings of evidence was also submitted in Koteles' report.

Photos shown in court showed some of the crime scene including the shooter's backpack and other belongings on a bathroom floor in the school.

UNREDACTED FACEBOOK MESSAGES

On Monday, Jennifer Crumbley was sworn in to allow unredacted Facebook messages from 2021 between her and her husband to be on the record.

Jennifer Crumbley & attorney agree to not redact messages

Three witnesses took the stand Monday, including Kira Pennock, who runs the barn that cared for the Crumbleys' horses, Shawn Hopkins, who worked as a counselor at Oxford High School the day of the shooting and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Joe Brian.

Brian with Oakland County Sheriff’s Office special investigations unit was the last witness to provide testimony Monday.

Brian described his encounter with James and Jennifer Crumbley around 2 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2021, as he was one of the first to interview them.

A video from inside the interview room was played Monday and showed the detectives asking the Crumbleys questions about their son and what occurred the day before the shooting.

First interview with James and Jennifer Crumbley following Oxford High School shooting

They also played a video of the parents meeting with their son after the interview with deputies. Jennifer Crumbley can be seen asking him, "Why? Why?" as they walked out. James could also be heard saying "I love you" repeatedly.

Witness testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday.

The trial for James Crumbley is scheduled to start in March.

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated that the shooter could be heard saying "I love you" when it was actually James.