James Crumbley threatened Prosecutor Karen McDonald with violence

Posted at 5:22 PM, March 19, 2024

(Scripps News Detroit) — 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.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald presents her case against Jennifer Crumbley.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald presents her case against Jennifer Crumbley in the School Shooter Mom Trial. (Court TV)

In a sit down interview covering a range of topics following two separate jury trials and guilty verdicts against James and Jennifer Crumbley, McDonald is opening 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 give ordinary care to get him help, resulting in the 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, I 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.”

James Crumbley looks over his shoulder during his trial.

James Crumbley turns to look for family members after it was announced they were present in the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews on Wednesday, March, 13, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich. Crumbley is charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to secure a gun at home and ignoring his son’s mental health. Ethan Crumbley killed four students at Oxford High School in 2021. Jury deliberations are set to resume Thursday. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool)

A professor of law at U of D 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.

I 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 the 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.”

I also asked and verified that with the counselor’s attorney.

“There’s nothing in the proper agreement that says the person providing the proper will not be prosecuted,” said Mitch Ribitwer, attorney for the counselor.

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.

I’ve 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 they are currently reviewing that request.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Detroit, an E.W. Scripps Company.