A man hunt has been launched for the parents of Oxford school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley, even as their lawyers insisted they had not gone missing and intended to respond to manslaughter charges.
Officials confirmed that a fugitive warrant had issued for James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the 15-year-old Michigan schoolboy accused of carrying out a shooting spree earlier this week.
The warrant was issued shortly after prosectors said they were filing manslaughter charges against the couple for their alleged role in failing to stop the tragedy and for buying the teenager used to kill four people and injured seven.
The victims have been named as Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Hana St Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17.
On Friday, it was announced that prosecutors in Oxford, located 35 miles north of Detroit, had charged the pupil’s parents, with four counts involuntary manslaughter.
Officials said the parents had ignored warning signs and called some of their actions prior to the shooting “egregious”.
Reports said that the parents had agreed to hand themselves in to authorities by early afternoon, but that there had been no sign of them. As a result, police said they had issued a so-called “fugitive warrant” and were actively searching for the couple.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told CNN police were searching for the Crumbleys after the couple’s attorney told his office that they have stopped responding to messages.
“If they think they’re going to get away, they’re not,” Mr Bouchard said. He said a “host” of detectives, as well as the FBI and the US Marshals Service, were looking for them.
In a statement asking the public to join in the search for the parents, the sheriff said: “The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges. They cannot run from their part in this tragedy.”
But lawyers for the couple denied claims that had fled.
Earlier on Friday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said at a news conference that the parents had been charge with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Four days before the shooting, Ethan Crumbley accompanied his father to a local gun shop, where James Crumbley bought a semi-automatic handgun, prosecutors said.
Michigan law prohibits those under 18 years of age from buying or possessing firearms, except in limited circumstances such as hunting with a license and a supervising adult.
Later that day, Ethan posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, “Just got my new beauty today” and adding a heart emoji. His mother posted the next day that the two of them were “testing out his new Christmas present”, Ms McDonald said.
”These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message: that gun owners have a responsibility,“ Ms McDonald said.
Additional reporting by agencies