Detroit, Mich. – In a diner about 40 miles north of Detroit, known for its local ingredients and reasonable prices, Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley used to pick up shifts.
Crumbley, 15, started working at the 5-1 Diner in March 2020 but only came in to pick up shifts “eight or nine times” once the coronavirus pandemic began.
“We never had any kind of issue with him at all,” 5-1 Diner owner Nicole Ellsworth, told Fox News Digtial on Monday afternoon after Crumbley’s probable cause hearing. “And he was a fairly good employee — just not a lot of experience.”
She added later: “Here, he was always polite. He’d say ‘Miss Nicole’ and ask me how my day was — things of that nature. Never once saw him angry or violent.”
He “talked to the kids” from Oxford High who worked at or came into the restaurant, but “they didn’t really know him,” Ellsworth said.
“They didn’t know he went to Oxford,” she said.
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Crumbley’s half-brother, Eli, also worked in the diner on S. Washington St. before moving to Florida to live with his mother, Ellsworth said. The establishment is one of dozens of small businesses in the town mourning the four students Crumbley is accused of shooting and killing on Nov. 30, including 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 15-year-old Justin Shilling, whose brother also worked at the diner before Crumbley was hired.
Restaurants, a coffee shop, a pharmacy and other businesses on S. Washington have blue and yellow signs that read, “Oxford Strong,” and, “We pray for peace.”
Ellsworth, who wore a blue and yellow flannel, has a son in 10th grade at the high school.
“I feel guilty because some people don’t have their kids. I mean…would he have shot my son?” she said. “Probably.”
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Ellsworth also feels “so guilty that none of us noticed anything was odd,” she said later.
Security camera footage from the diner on Sept. 20, 2020, which was obtained by The Daily Mail, shows Crumbley falling in the kitchen and hitting his head. Immediately after the incident, Ellsworth called his parents, who told her that their son “doesn’t eat much.”
“But it doesn’t really look like that’s what happened,” she said. “I would hate to speculate but…I don’t think he was always a monster. I think the parents had a lot to do with it. I think, during COVID, he was isolated, and…whatever they did, buying that gun for him…that’s child abuse, in my opinion.”
Crumbley is accused of using a gun his father, James Crumbley, purchased for him, according to Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald. The prosecutor said earlier this month that James Crumbley bought the pistol at a local firearms store on Nov. 26, and that Ethan Crumbley had access to the gun at home before he allegedly brought it to Oxford High School. James Crumbley’s wife, Jennifer Crumbley, said in a social media post that the gun was a Christmas present for their son, according to McDonald.
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“I just think when they put that gun in his hand, it gave him power, and people recognize you, and it’s a sick, twisted thing,” Ellsworth said.
The parents have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each.
Ellsworth recalled seeing photos of the Crumbleys on Facebook from several years ago, when Oxford’s eighth-grade class went on its annual trip to Washington, D.C. It seemed as though Ethan Crumbley and his parents, who both went on the trip, were attached at the hip the whole time while other kids spent time with each other. Ellsworth said she heard from others that Crumbley’s parents left him home “a lot,” and that he didn’t have “many friends.”
The diner owner and others in the community are now calling for legislative change to ensure something like the Nov. 30 shooting never happens again.
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“Now, we have to do right by these kids,” she said. “These kids can’t be afraid for the rest of their lives. … They’ve been through so much with COVID.”
A probable cause hearing for Crumbley was adjourned Monday until Jan. 4 as attorneys sift through hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of evidence. Crumbley’s parents also have a probable cause hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon in an Oakland County court.