The owner of an art studio where Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley’s parents went into hiding was not aware that the couple were wanted by authorities because he doesn’t watch the news, according to his attorney.
Andrzej Sikora, the Detroit-based artist, said he did not know about the charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley or that the two had stayed the night at his studio on Friday after he went home, his attorney Clarence Dass said on Sunday.
Mr Dass said the Crumbleys went to his client’s studio on Friday morning when he was not aware of the charges pressed against them. The 65-year-old artist shared a “friendly relationship” with the couple, the attorney said, but did not share more details as the matter was under investigation.
The Crumbleys have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after their 15-year-old son Ethan was held for a fatal shooting at his high school on Tuesday last week which killed four students and injured over half a dozen.
The couple were found inside the commercial building that had the studio on Saturday after police launched a search for them a day earlier.
Ethan has been charged as an adult on grounds of first-degree murder, assault with intent to commit murder and gun crimes, and faces life in prison for each of the terrorism and murder counts.
When Mr Sikora woke up on Saturday and saw the news of police officials taking the teenager’s parents into custody, he informed the authorities.
His attorney Mr Dass said the couple had gone to him for safety.
“There was a lot of confusion and the Crumbleys went to him for safety. He did not know about the charges,” Mr Dass said. “They were there in the daytime. He left in the early evening. He did not even know they were still there,” he added.
While the artist has not been charged with any crime, Detroit police officials said the Crumbleys “were aided in getting into the building”. The person who aided them could also face charges, the police pointed out, adding that they do not have any additional information.
Mr Sikora is cooperating with the investigation and authorities, police officials said.
The attorney representing the couple has denied allegations that the Crumbleys were intending to flee to evade arrest after the authorities announced that they would be charged over their alleged role in the Oxford school shooting.
The authorities are now investigating the extent to which James and Jennifer Crumbley were aware of what the school described as their son’s “troubling” behaviour prior to the shooting. Ethan is accused of using a gun bought by his father on Black Friday to carry out the attack.
Upon hearing about a shooting unfolding in the school, Ms Crumbley sent a text reading “Ethan, don’t do it” to her son, officials said.
The two each now face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.