The parents of a teenager accused of a school shooting in which four people died have been arrested after going missing.
James and Jennifer Crumbley had been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, but hours after the charges were announced, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said authorities were searching for them after their lawyer said they had stopped answering messages.
Rudy Harper of the Detroit Police said the pair were taken into custody on the first floor of a residential structure on Saturday, according to NBC News.
Undersheriff Mike McCabe confirmed the “wanted fugitives” had been located after a business owner saw one of them in a parking lot on Bellevue, in Detroit. A woman was spotted by the car, who “fled on foot” after the police were called.
Ms McCabe told NBC: “After an extensive search by Detroit Police Department (DPD), including Detroit canine units, both of the fugitives were located and arrested by DPD.
“The two will be transported to the Oakland County Jail tonight.”
A later statement from the couple’s lawyers denied they were on the run and claimed they were returning to the area after leaving “for their own safety” on the night of the shooting.
Investigators said the handgun was purchased legally by Mr Crumbley last week – apparently as a Christmas present – and was “freely available” to the teenager.
Ethan is said to have posted images of the gun used in the shooting on social media, writing: “Just got my new beauty today” and adding a heart emoji, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said.
Mrs Crumbley posted the next day that they were “testing out his new Christmas present”.
School officials had grown concerned after a teacher had previously seen the teenager searching for ammunition on his phone during class, said Ms McDonald.
Yet when Jennifer Crumbley was contacted, she told her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
Investigators also claim the Crumbleys failed to intervene on the day of the tragedy, despite being confronted with a drawing found in Ethan’s desk that showed a gun pointing at the words “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
There was also a drawing of a bullet, the prosecutor said, accompanied by the words “blood everywhere”.
Despite an emergency meeting – where the school told his parents to get Ethan into counselling within 48-hours – the Crumbleys failed to ask their son about the gun or check his backpack and “resisted the idea of him leaving school at that time”.
Instead, he returned to class and the shooting subsequently occurred.
When he heard about the shooting, Mr Crumbley called authorities to say he suspected his son was responsible after he drove home to look for the gun and found it missing.
Ethan has been charged as an adult with crimes including murder, attempted murder and terrorism.
He is alleged to have emerged from a toilet and opened fire in a hallway. Seven students and a teacher were shot before he surrendered.
Three of the students died on Tuesday, and the fourth died on Wednesday.
They have been named as Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.