“There’s nothing new in this story,” Ethan Crumbley said when told that the parents of their son, who died in the Dec. 15 school shooting in his suburban Detroit home, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges.
He reacted to the news this morning in a phone call from Texas, where he and his wife are now living and where Ethan’s mother is now staying in custody after appearing in a Wayne County, Mich., court Thursday.
“We’re just so thankful for people who are still caring about us,” he said, referring to the well-wishers who have called the Crumbleys’ home in White Lake Township, Mich., since the tragedy.
Click here for a timeline of events in the shooting.
While the crimes allegedly committed by 24-year-old Eric Paddock and his wife, 33-year-old Noelle Paddock, in their suburban Detroit home – which is connected to the Long Lake Elementary School – have been a source of torment for the Crumbleys, their grief has only grown with the latest twists in the case and the distraction of the legal proceedings, which began this week.
Eric Paddock is accused of having an affair with a student from the school before they moved out of their home less than three months before the shooting. Police allege he used a 20-gauge shotgun to start shooting into their home, hitting Ethan, 15, who was alone in the house as his parents were at work.
Noelle Paddock faces two felony counts of first-degree premeditated murder while Eric Paddock faces counts of first-degree murder, felony firearm use and first-degree home invasion, conspiracy to commit home invasion and attempted first-degree home invasion.
An arraignment in the case has been set for June 14 in Wayne County Circuit Court, prosecutors said.
The Crumbleys knew nothing of the affairs, their son’s “death spiral” or even the couple’s plans for the day of the shooting until hours after it took place.
When their son called the phone from his cell phone – apparently while in the middle of the carnage – police arrived at the home as soon as he hung up the phone.
“A sheriff came and said, ‘Tell us where the ambulance is going,’” Ethan recalled in a phone interview Sunday. “I was still on the phone with 911, then one of the officers came and said, ‘We’re going to take you out of here as soon as you get here,’ and he asked if I needed an ambulance. I said, ‘No, just get us out of here.’”
After the sheriff warned them, Ethan scrambled through his own darkness to get to the school, then found his friends and strangers helping him.
By the time his parents arrived, Ethan’s face was covered in blood.
“When I arrived at the hospital they said he had got a gunshot wound to the head, which they told me was close to his frontal lobe,” Ethan said. “I remember when they told me I’d actually lost the entire right side of my face.”
Ethan spent the next 10 days in the hospital. He still wears a full face mask. The stitches in his eyes and face – which were initially removed with staples – now glow green when touched.
“I looked in the mirror and I was aware of myself,” he said. “I wasn’t around the world looking at it.”
Doctors say he lost nearly 80 percent of his brain capacity. A week after the shooting, he began learning how to use his right side, and slowly his left side is coming back to him.
“We’re still waiting to hear back from the doctors on any help he’ll need in the future,” Ethan said. “If I’m just lucky, that could be two or three months.”
He hopes to get a community college degree in engineering to get a construction job so he can get his career back on track.
“I’m trying to get going at school so I can be on my feet financially, but with a face like this, it makes it hard,” he said.