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UPDATE, 12:22 p.m. Wednesday: A fourth victim, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died due to his injuries at 10 a.m. Wednesday at McLaren Oakland Hospital, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said. Here's the latest.
UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. Wednesday: The Oakland County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday clarified that the suspect still had 18 rounds of ammunition left at the time he was arrested.
A 15-year-old Oxford High School sophomore, armed with a semiautomatic handgun, is accused of a shooting at his school Tuesday afternoon, killing three students and injuring seven others and a teacher.
Those killed were: Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17.
The incident unfolded in about five minutes and police said the shooter, who was not injured, was arrested after deputies stopped him coming down a hall with a 9mm handgun with rounds of live ammunition.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard late Tuesday said the suspect's father purchased the handgun just four days ago. The sheriff said he would not be identifying the juvenile at this time..
The teen was under suicide watch, County Executive David Coulter said Tuesday night, and Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she planned to issue "appropriate charges quickly" and that the community has her commitment and promise that she "will seek justice."
Michael McCabe, the Oakland County undersheriff who lives about 1½ miles from the school, said at a prior news conference it appeared the suspect worked alone and investigators were interviewing students and scouring social media for clues to a motive.
The boy who was fatally wounded died in a patrol car as a deputy rushed to a hospital, Bouchard said. He noted that an employee at the emergency dispatch center also had a loved one die in the attack.
Of those injured, the 47-year-old teacher with a grazing bullet wound had been discharged, while the children ages 14 through 17 years old were in conditions ranging from stable to critical, with injuries to extremities, chests, necks and heads. One 14-year-old girl was on a ventilator Tuesday night..
Other students were hurt in the evacuation, but had non-life threatening injuries, the sheriff said.
It was unclear whether the suspect had targeted anyone. Some said he was bullied.
Meanwhile, pastors and religious leaders organized two prayer vigils, one at Kensington Church in Lake Orion and the other at LakePoint Community in Oxford, for the mourning survivors. A Mass was organized at St. Joseph, also in Lake Orion.
As the nation's latest mass shooting draws national media attention, it puts questions of what to do about guns and renews political debates about gun control, violence and school safety.
At a 5 p.m. news conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called mass shootings a "uniquely American" problem that needs to be addressed. Later, responding to a reporter's question about how she felt, her voice wavered.
Near tears, she added: "I think this is every parent's worst nightmare."
Police said they were unaware of any warning signs, but some parents and students said they had heard rumors before Tuesday that something bad might happen at the school.
Earlier this month, Oxford schools published a note to parents that it was aware that "numerous rumors" had "circulated throughout our building this week," and the school was reviewing the concerns.
Bouchard encouraged people to contact law enforcement with such tips. He called the shooting "unspeakable and unforgivable."
"We're here for the worst kind of tragedy we've seen across the country and we hoped and prayed it would never come to Oakland County but it has," he said.
He touted the training the community had done to prepare for such a day, commended the deputies who took the suspect into custody and discussed the massive response by law enforcement partners.
For most of Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement officers surrounded the school, helicopters swirled over the snow-covered parking lots and worried parents took to social media to find out what was going on.
"As Michiganders, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect each other from gun violence," Whitmer said in a statement, ordering flags to be lowered. "No one should be afraid to go to school, work, a house of worship, or even their own home."
President Joe Biden — who was briefed by Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser, while traveling in Minnesota — said: "My heart goes out to the families that are enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one."
Meanwhile, students — those at the school or just in the community on Tuesday — were reeling.
Middle schoolers reported worry for their older siblings.
Others said they lost friends. One said it will take time to feel safe at school again.
A chaotic scene
Oxford High School students who were interviewed by reporters described a chaotic and confused scene in which a voice came on over the intercom to announce an active shooter.
At first, they said, they didn't know whether it was a drill.
But, when they realized it wasn't, they were struck by fear and panic.
Surveillance footage, Bouchard would later say, showed the suspect come out of a bathroom with the handgun.
Students said teachers locked and barricaded doors, covered windows — and some students hid. Those with cellphones quietly texted to alert their parents and friends what was happening. Students were in tears.
Some students said they could hear loud bangs.
By early afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said it had taken the suspect — and the handgun — into custody. Officials said they were shocked and devastated and asked for prayers.
The suspect, police said, asked for an attorney.
Some parents later said, even before the shooting, rumors had been circulating that a school shooting was going to happen, and some students even said that they had decided not to attend.
Robin Redding, the parent of a 12th grader, told the Associated Press that there had been rumblings of trouble at the school.
“He was not in school today," she said. "He just said that 'Ma I don’t feel comfortable. None of the kids that we go to school with are going today.' "
Jody Job, chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party and a candidate for the state house in 2020, said her son didn’t go to school Tuesday because "he felt like something was going to go down."
“I think there was just a level of discomfort with some of the students," she said. "I don't know what they're communicating to each other. That's a whole other world I'm not a part of."
Gun violence in schools, she said, “feels like it's something that's going to hit every school eventually if we don't really start to crack down on guns and especially kids’ access to guns."
Victims rushed to hospitals
A public school in northern Oakland County about 45 minutes from downtown Detroit, Oxford High has about 1,800 students and draws from Oxford, Oxford Township and parts of Orion, Dryden, Metamora and Addison townships.
The initial 911 call about the shooting, authorities said, came in about 12:51 p.m., and was followed by many more. More than 100 police officers, including the FBI special agent in charge, and paramedics responded.
Ambulances took victims to three local hospitals.
Shortly before 1:45 p.m., a long line of students could be seen walking west on Ray Road to a nearby Meijer store. Police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances surrounded the school, while officers in tactical gear went in and out.
Abbey Hodder, a 15-year-old sophomore, was in chemistry class when she thought she heard glass breaking.
"My teacher kind of ran out and was scrambling," she said. "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."
They then lined up along a wall and grabbed something to throw, also part of the active shooter training they’ve had, Hodder said. But not long after, she added, her teacher told them to jump out a window and run.
Authorities said there didn't appear to be other threats, but were double and triple checking the school, where some students were reportedly hiding, according to parents who were in contact with them.
Students with transportation were allowed to leave.
Others were told to gather at the Meijer, which is within walking distance of the school.
Ashley Bales, a senior at Oxford, hadn't realized the intercom call was real until she got a text from her sister. She and her classmates ran through a door to the outside and down a slippery hill toward Meijer at some point during the shooting. She was hit 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.
State Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, tweeted that his son is a teacher at the high school. Howell said it was the "scare of his life" when he heard the news of the shooting.
"Thank God we have received word from John that he and his students are safe," he added in his tweet. "Please join us in praying for the other students and staff at Oxford."
An outpouring of grief
Throughout metro Detroit, residents and public officials expressed condolences.
"We are deeply saddened by today’s tragic events in Oxford," the Detroit Tigers tweeted. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the entire community impacted by this tragedy."
Attorney General Dana Nessel, the state's top law enforcement officer, said her department reached out to local law enforcement to offer assistance as the investigation continues.
“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," she said. "Our kids deserve better."
U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain said she "can’t imagine the pain their families are going through."
"This is an incredibly sad day for Oxford and our entire state," she added. "I want to thank our first responders for their bravery during this tragedy and ask you all to keep Oxford in your prayers."
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, at the late night news conference, said the incident highlights the deep need for mental health services at schools across the country. She also praised the first responders.
"It's just obviously a deeply dark day in Michigan's history. The trend that we've seen all over the country has come to us; we had all hoped that it would not," she said, adding: "People have asked what can they do. Reach out to anyone you know in the Oxford area, in the Lake Orion area. Just show that basic human compassion by reaching out. People need to hear from others right now."
Staff writers Nushrat Rahman, Dave Boucher, Todd Spangler, Elisha Anderson, Kristen Jordan Shamus, Adrienne Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Oxford High School shooting leaves 4 dead, 7 injured