A 15-year-old boy is in custody after three students died and eight were injured in a shooting Tuesday afternoon at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, authorities said.
The Oxford High School students killed were Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
Eight others – seven students and a teacher – were shot, Bouchard said. Three are in critical condition with gunshot wounds, including a 14-year-old girl who is on a ventilator after having surgery. A 14-year-old boy is in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the jaw and head, Bouchard said. Three students are in stable condition and the teacher who was shot has been discharged.
“I think this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who added that shootings at schools are “a uniquely American problem that we need to address.”
“My heart goes out to the families. This is an unimaginable tragedy. I hope we can all rise to the occasion and wrap our arms around the families, the affected children and school personnel and this community,” Whitmer said.
There were multiple other non-life-threatening injuries sustained by people as they were rushing out of the school, Bouchard said. Most were treated and released at a staging area, he said.
The suspect, a sophomore at the school, was taken into custody without incident two to three minutes after authorities responded to the shooting, Bouchard said. His parents have hired an attorney and have not permitted him to talk to police, Undersheriff Michael G. McCabe said.
The suspect is being held at Oakland County Children’s Village – a juvenile detention facility – and is on suicide watch where he is being checked on every 15 minutes, said David Coulter, the Oakland County executive.
How the shooting unfolded
At a late Tuesday news conference, Bouchard gave some more details about the shooting.
The semiautomatic handgun recovered by law enforcement was bought by suspect’s father on Friday, he said.
The weapon, a 9MM Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol that was loaded at the time it was confiscated, still contained seven rounds, Bouchard said.
A video camera in the school showed that the gunman “came out of the bathroom with the weapon,” but that it was not clear where the gunman went next, the sheriff said.
Law enforcement arrived at the school within minutes of the emergency calls about the shooting.
“As they were coming down the hall, they saw him. He put his hands up, they took a gun and they took him into custody,” Bouchard said.
One deputy loaded Myre in their car, but the 16-year-old died on the way to the hospital, the sheriff said. A dispatcher also had a relative die in shooting.
“This touches us all personally and deeply and will for a long time. This wound will never go away,” Bouchard said.
Authorities recovered multiple shell casings in the school and believe around 15-20 shots were fired. There is no indication the suspect was wearing body armor, McCabe said earlier on Tuesday.
“At this point in time, we believe he acted alone,” McCabe said. He said that authorities are aware of how the suspect allegedly got the gun into the school, but declined to divulge those details.
All evacuated students were relocated to a nearby store for reunification with relatives. About 25 agencies and close to 60 ambulances responded, according to John Lyman, public information officer for the Rochester Hills Fire Department.
The families of the victims have been notified. It is not currently known whether the three students killed were targeted, McCabe said.
“We’ve done three sweeps of the high school to make sure there’s no other victims,” he said. “We don’t have a motive at this point in time. We are still investigating that.”
A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home, McCabe said. Bouchard said authorities seized a phone and examining other seized items.
While Bouchard said authorities were not aware of prior concerns, they are also investigating pictures of a target and the weapon posted on social media by the suspect.
McCabe said the suspect could be charged as an adult, but that is up to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald said in a statement Tuesday her office has “begun the process of receiving information regarding the investigation” into the shooting.
“I was both horrified and saddened to learn about the shootings at Oxford High School this afternoon. My office and I have been in constant communication with the Sheriff’s Office, the Oakland County Juvenile Court and other governmental and law enforcement bodies,” McDonald said. “It is our intent to review it thoroughly and issue appropriate charges quickly.”
Oxford Schools Superintendent Tim Throne said at the news conference the shooting left him shocked. “It’s devastating,” he said.
Throne declined to say why there were no metal detectors in the school, but did say that to his knowledge, metal detectors never came up in conversation prior to the shooting.
“The vast majority of schools in America don’t have metal detectors,” Bouchard said.
Student recounts barricading in classroom
Aiden Page, a senior at Oxford High School, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday the shooter was so close to his classroom that a bullet pierced one of the desks Page and other students used to barricade the door.
Page said everything kicked into high gear when he, other students and his teachers heard two gunshots.
“We heard two gunshots and after that, my teacher ran into the room, locked it, we barricaded and then we covered the windows and hid,” he said.
The class was on lockdown for an hour, Page said. During that time, some students armed themselves with whatever they could find.
“We grabbed calculators, we grabbed scissors just in case the shooter got in and we had to attack them,” he said. “Some were crying, some were trying to support others. Others were trying to come up with ideas just in case.”
Page said the entire experience was “insane” and he contemplated whether he would live through the ordeal.
“The very first thing in my head was, ‘Is this actually happening? I’m going to text my family, say I love them just in case, if I were to die.’ Then when everything calmed down for a second, I was able to catch my breath and rationalize things,” he said.
“It’s definitely going to be weird coming back, especially knowing people were injured and a couple of students died as well.”
President and state officials react to shooting
President Joe Biden addressed the shooting Tuesday while in Minnesota, saying, “My heart goes out to the families enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one.”
“You’ve gotta know that that whole community has to be in a state of shock right now,” Biden said.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her department has offered assistance to local law enforcement and that she extended her “sincere gratitude” to the first responders on the scene.
“My heart goes out to the parents who have lost their children and to the students, teachers, staff, and families reeling from the tragedy of a school shooting within their community,” Nessel said. “We must act to properly address gun violence in our schools and the ongoing threat of another unconscionable tragedy if we continue to only offer thoughts and prayers. Our kids deserve better.”
“We share in the heartbreak felt by all of those impacted by today’s tragic events in Oxford,” the Detroit Lions tweeted. “We as an organization extend our prayers to the victims and offer support to the entire Oxford community during this painful time.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Hana St. Juliana
CNN’s Allie Malloy, Brian Vitagliano, Laura Ly, Jill Martin and Alex Harring contributed to this report.