shooting at a Michigan high school when a 15-year-old student opened fire “with the intent to kill,” authorities said.
Four teenagers died and seven people were injured at Oxford High School in Oakland County when a gunman fired what sheriff’s deputies now believe to be 30 shots Tuesday afternoon and tried to breach classroom doors.
“He came out with the intent to kill people. He was shooting people at close range, oftentimes toward the head or chest,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said on CNN early Wednesday. “It’s chilling. It’s just absolutely cold-hearted murderous.”
Bouchard said the suspect was arrested at the scene roughly 45 minutes northwest of Detroit. The sheriff’s office identified the victims as Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.
Chilling video shows Michigan students escape through window during shooting
Abbey Hodder, 15, a sophomore, was in chemistry class when she thought she heard glass breaking.
“My teacher kind of ran out and was scrambling,” she said, describing how she and her classmates followed their active shooter training. “The next thing I knew I saw he was pushing tables. It’s part of school protocol to barricade, so we all knew, barricade, barricade down. And we all started pushing tables.”
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in a statement that her office was reviewing the case and intended to “issue appropriate charges quickly.”
Bouchard said that the suspect’s father bought the gun Friday and that the teen appeared to post images of the gun online days before the shooting.
Undersheriff Michael McCabe acknowledged there were rumors about warning signs and said that they were being investigated. At least one parent told The Associated Press that her son was not in school over fears something could happen.
Oxford High in Michigan is 28th school shooting of 2021
The suspect, a sophomore from the Village of Oxford whom authorities have not identified, was in class during the day, McCabe said. The weapon was a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol. Bouchard said the teen was arrested with seven rounds still in a magazine and one in the chamber.
The suspect invoked his right not to speak to investigators and requested a lawyer. He was being held at the county’s juvenile detention facility and was under suicide watch, County Executive David Coulter said Tuesday night.
Tate Myre died in a patrol car as a deputy rushed him to a hospital, Bouchard said. Justin Shilling died Wednesday at a local hospital.
Seven people were injured, including a teacher. Bouchard said most of the remaining gunshot victims were stable but some remained in critical condition. Police had said a 14-year-old girl was placed on a ventilator after surgery and the 47-year-old teacher was discharged after being treated.
A post on the Twitter page for Oxford High School’s football team said Tate had been a varsity football player since his first year and was an honor student. “Tate was a great young man with a bright future and beloved by all. You will be missed, Tate,” the tweet read.
“He was a tremendous football player with the brightest of futures and was an even better young man off the field as he was on it,” another tweet read.
The school’s women’s basketball team tweeted that Hana St. Juliana was a dedicated member of the program. “We will never forget your kind heart, silly personality, and passion for the game. … This season we play for you Hana,” the post read.
Madisyn Baldwin’s grandmother described the 17-year-old as a talented artist and told WDIV-TV she already had received multiple college acceptances. Madisyn was patient and “so kind,” her grandmother told the TV station.
Town organizes vigils, prays for peace in wake of Michigan high school shooting
At 12:51 p.m. Tuesday, police dispatchers received a 911 call for an active shooter at Oxford High School. More than 100 calls ultimately came in. Within about five minutes of the initial call, Oakland County sheriff’s deputies had arrested the suspect, McCabe said.
Surveillance video from the school showed the suspect coming out of a bathroom with a pistol, Bouchard said.
McCabe said the school did “everything right” and had everyone take shelter. Barricaded doors and first responders’ quick action “saved lives,” Bouchard said.
Abbey said she and her classmates lined up along a wall and grabbed something to throw, also part of their active shooting training. But not long after, her teacher told them to jump out a window and run.
A video shared widely on social media from inside a classroom showed students hiding as they heard a knock on the door. A voice from outside the classroom said: “Sheriff’s office. It’s safe to come out.” Inside, a person replied, “We’re not willing to take that risk right now.”
“It’s OK,” the voice outside insisted. “Open the door. It’s all right, bro.” When students heard the person outside use the word “bro,” pandemonium erupted. Someone called it a “red flag” because a sheriff’s deputy would be unlikely to use the word “bro.” The students escaped through a window, and a sheriff’s deputy greeted them as they entered another door across a courtyard.
Bouchard didn’t confirm the person in the video trying to enter the room was in fact the shooter but said, “A ruse like this wouldn’t have surprised me, given the way he was acting.”
Ashley Bales, a senior, didn’t realize the intercom call was real until she got a text from her sister. She and her classmates ran outside and down a slippery hill toward a Meijer grocery store during the shooting. She was struck in the face in the crush of people but was OK.
“It was hard for me because my sister was still in school,” she said.
Brandi Lawrey said she was on the phone with her daughter, Makenzie, 17, as she ran from the building while police officers directed her out. Lawrey said Makenzie’s class barricaded their door with tables and chairs, then squeezed into a far corner before they left the building.
“All the words in her text and the fear in her voice kept filtering through my mind,” Brandi Lawrey said Wednesday morning. “Makenzie is devastated and heartbroken. She’s scared.”
Schools superintendent Tim Throne said Oxford High doesn’t have metal detectors. Authorities knew how the student brought in the weapon, McCabe added, but he did not elaborate.
McCabe said the district and superintendent work hard to keep the school’s 1,800 students safe, highlighting the fact that a deputy is assigned to the school and was involved in the suspect’s arrest.
There have been 28 school shootings this year, according to Education Week, which tracks shootings at schools in which there are any firearm-related injuries or deaths.
Of those, 20 have occurred since August, when many students returned to in-person learning for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 10 recorded shootings in 2020.
In addition, the incident is the 651st in 2021 in which at least four people were shot, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Contributing: Khalil AlHajal, Elisha Anderson, Liz Shepard, David Jesse, Kristen Jordan Shamus and Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press; Michael Braun, Fort Myers News-Press; The Associated Press
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