A 65-year-old man has publicly identified himself as the person law enforcement says helped the fugitive parents of the alleged Michigan school shooter into the building where they were later arrested.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the alleged actions of their 15-year-old son, Ethan Crumbley, who is accused of killing four classmates during Tuesday’s shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit.
Police launched a manhunt after the parents failed to appear at their arraignment hearing Friday, later arresting them at a Detroit building after a sighting by a member of the public.
Police said Saturday it appeared the couple had been hiding in the workspace and that someone had helped them into the building, guiding them as they parked their vehicle in back.
Andrzej Sikora on Sunday identified himself through his attorney as the individual law enforcement says helped the Crumbleys.
Though Sikora knew the Crumbleys were using his workspace, he “did not really know what was going on” and didn’t know the couple “had active warrants” when they were discovered by law enforcement and subsequently arrested, his attorney, Clarence Dass, said.
Dass said his client “got roped into it,” but declined to say why he allowed the couple to stay in the workspace or provide additional details on Sikora’s relationship with the Crumbleys other than to say “he knew them, but not well.”
Dass told CNN his client was at the workspace for “a short period of time,” but wasn’t there late Friday evening and the overnight hours when the Crumbleys were arrested, adding he didn’t realize the Crumbleys were in his space for “that long.”
Sikora “has been an upstanding citizen his entire life. An immigrant from Poland, he has dedicated his adult life to the arts and metro Detroit community,” Dass said in a news release Sunday afternoon.
“Mr. Sikora has not been charged with any crime. Nevertheless, upon learning of the Crumbleys’ arrest on December 4, 2021, he voluntarily contacted the Detroit Police Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to provide information. He maintains his innocence throughout this process and is fully cooperating with law enforcement to assist in their investigation,” the statement says.
In a news conference late Saturday afternoon, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said law enforcement was still “gathering information” and would present it to the county prosecutor for potential charges related to aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice.
Dass told CNN he doesn’t think there’s evidence to support his client knew the Crumbleys were fugitives when he allowed them into his workspace.
Early Saturday, police said they found the couple on the first floor of an industrial or commercial building in Detroit – some 40 miles south of the Oxford area where they live – after someone tipped police Friday night that their vehicle was nearby.
“They appeared to be hiding in the building,” Detroit Police Chief James White said at a news conference early Saturday. They were “very distressed” after they were detained, the chief said.
White said he didn’t know the Crumbleys’ intentions, but that “this isn’t indicative of turning themselves in, hiding in a warehouse.”
Parents accused of allowing son ‘free access’ to weapon
Tuesday’s shooting – the deadliest at a US K-12 campus since 2018 and the 32nd such attack since August 1 – claimed the lives of Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.
Ethan Crumbley was charged Wednesday with a slew of charges as an adult, including terrorism and first-degree murder, among others. His lawyer entered a not-guilty plea during his arraignment Wednesday.
On Saturday, his parents pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges.
Prosecutors alleged they allowed their son “free access” to the gun used in the shooting, which they say James Crumbley bought four days prior, on Black Friday. But one of their attorneys, Shannon Smith, said the gun was locked.
The detained couple, sitting alone in separate rooms, made their arraignment appearance by video conference with the judge, their attorneys and the county prosecutor.
During the arraignment, their attorneys stressed their clients had fully intended to turn themselves in before authorities arrested them Saturday morning.
The US Marshals Service was helping local authorities search for the couple Friday, and had offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information that could lead to their arrest. Authorities publicized a description of their vehicle.
Ultimately, Detroit police made the arrest after a business owner saw a woman standing near “the suspect vehicle” in his parking lot Friday night and called 911, according to a statement to CNN from Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe.
An Oakland County judge set bond for James and Jennifer Crumbley at $500,000 each.
The Crumbleys’ attorneys asked for bonds of $50,000 or $100,000.
The couple is being held in the same county jail as their son.