After the shooting at Oxford High School on Monday, Buck Myre was searching for his son, Tate, at the Meijer, a staging area for survivors.
“I was walking with Buck and we couldn’t find Tate,” said JR Laefner, the public address announcer at Oxford football games and a Myre family friend.
Then, Buck Myre came to a realization.
“Buck looked right at me," Laefner said, "and he said: ‘You know who would go take that guy out, right?' ”
“I know,” Laefner said.
Ross Wingert, who coached Tate in football and wrestling, was one of the first to reach the Meijer. In the middle of a chaotic scene, Wingert was told by multiple students that when the gunfire started, Tate ran toward the gunman.
“I was told that everybody in that school was running one way, and Tate was running the other way,” Wingert said.
Toward the shooting.
Hours later, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office confirmed the horrible news: Tate Myre, 16, had been shot. A sheriff's deputy put him into a squad car and tried to rush him to the hospital, but he died en route.
Tate was one of four students who have died from gunshot wounds during Tuesday's attack.
Myre's funeral has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Kensington Church in Lake Orion.
A life of sacrifice
If Tate did run toward the gunman trying to make the shooting stop, it will likely be confirmed by the school’s videotape system.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Tuesday night there's no video evidence to suggest that a civilian or student tried to disarm the shooter.
But it certainly fit into Tate's persona, according to those who knew him best.
“Knowing Tate, knowing how he was raised, he's the kind of kid that wouldn't think about it twice,” Wingert said. “And he's gonna do it.”
Wingert sent a text message to several of his coaching friends on Tuesday night after the shooting. He wanted to tell them about Tate.
CHILLING VIDEO: Pandemonium inside Oxford High School classroom during shooting
“I told them that Tate is the fastest, most athletic kid in that school,” Wingert said. “There's no way he couldn't have gotten out of there if he wanted to. He would have been the No. 1 candidate to be able to run out of that school if he wanted to. I know Tate chose to do what he thought was right and he made the ultimate sacrifice."
Sacrifice was in Tate’s DNA.
He was a star wrestler, who was asked to wrestle up a weight class for the good of the team, and he did it without question.
“He did what he was asked to do,” Wingert said. “And he did it with a full heart, too.”
Tate was a star football player — a junior who joined the varsity as a freshman — and switched from running back to tight end for the good of the team.
“The coaching staff talked to him about it,” Wingert said. “There was not a single hesitation. That's who Tate was.”
All those small decisions, all those small sacrifices, Wingert believes, formed the core of a determined person who would run after a gunman, instead of running to safety.
“It's accountability, doing what's right,” Wingert said. “You can't do what he did, unless you prepared yourself beforehand, to know that you're going to be the guy that's gonna stand up for everybody.”
The youngest of three boys, Tate was raised to sacrifice and work hard and be dedicated to something bigger than himself.
'INTENT TO KILL': A visual timeline of deadly shooting at Oxford High School
“It’s the All-American family,” Laefner said. “If you're in trouble or if you need anything, they're there to help. They're there for the kids. They love school. Buck is like the head of the football parents group and helps with the fundraising and is involved in everything. He helps with the team dinners. And they're just that high school family that's involved.”
Oxford football coach Zach Line posted a tribute to Myre on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon:
"Tate was and will always be a beaming light for Oxford. It’s hard to put into words what he meant to me, but he will hold a special place in my heart forever. God reaches down and touches certain people, he was one of those people. I love you FOUR TWO."
Tate was and will always be a beaming light for Oxford. It’s hard to put into words what he meant to me, but he will hold a special place in my heart forever. God reaches down and touches certain people, he was one of those people. I love you FOUR TWO pic.twitter.com/6txAN2fEA2
— Zach Line (@ZLINE48) December 1, 2021
'Everything about us is tough'
Tate was a man of his word, even though he was just 16.
After committing to go on a football recruiting visit to Toledo on Saturday, Tate was invited to go on a recruiting visit to Michigan State for the Penn State game. A far more prestigious invite.
"The Myres are very loyal people,” Wingert said. “Tate Myre keeps his word. He is probably the most amazing kid I've ever been around. I was very, very lucky to have been around with him."
Opposing coaches talked about Tate in similar tones.
“I thought he was the best player in our league,” Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson said. “After we played them the first time I must have run back five of his plays. I said: ‘Look at how hard this kid plays.’ “
Tate wore No. 42 – a high honor in Oxford.
“In Oxford it’s like — Prescott Line wore it, Zach Line wore it — so like with Michigan and No. 1, that’s how it is in Oxford,” Rochester Adams coach Tony Patritto said.
“You could tell he was a great teammate. He was involved in every play, whether it was the blocker, the guy getting the ball, the guy catching the pass, the guy putting the ball down."
Game after game, Tate left opposing coaches impressed.
“It’s crazy, my staff was talking about him the other day,” Clinton Township Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant said. “We were talking about how not a lot of people could tackle (Cephus Harris) one-on-one. We felt like out of everybody, that kid did the best job all year.”
After a victory over Clarkston this season, Myre was interviewed by The D Zone, a website committed to Michigan high school football. And when you watch the video, it's clear that he loved his school, loved his team, loved his teammates.
“It feels great,” he said on the video, his hair matted down. “In the rain, this is where we live. Rain is just like Oxford football — tough, muddy.”
Successful football teams need leaders on the field.
Oxford 2023 RB/MLB Tate Myre is one of those players and he talked to The D Zone after the playoff win.
“Rain is like Oxford football, tough” 💪
#43 Oxford beat #9 Clarkston 38-28@OxfordFootbalI @TateMyre2023 pic.twitter.com/w0Iq5WNpUJ
— The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) October 30, 2021
He smiled and nodded.
“Everything about us is tough.”
More than 75,000 people have signed an online petition to rename Wildcat Stadium as Tate Myre Stadium.
“One of the students was killed in an attempt to disarm the shooter, this student is Tate Myre," the petition reads. “Tate is not just a hero to his fellow students at Oxford high school but a legend, his act of bravery should be remembered forever and passed down through generations, he put his life in danger to try and help the thousands of other students at Oxford High School.”
They're only kids
Now, this small, tight community is trying to come to grips with the unthinkable.
On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of football players and wrestlers met in a building across the street from the Meijer.
The boys walked in with somber faces and sullen eyes. Wearing sweats and varsity jackets, a reminder they are just kids.
“What do you say to them?” Wingert was asked. “What is your message?”
He looked at the boys.
“I don't think there is a straight, clear message that just washes everything away,” he said. “But, you know, getting our guys together today; No. 1, the most important thing is just being together.”
Some were wrestlers. Some were football players.
All of them were Tate's teammates, gathering together.
Hugging and crying.
And they all hurt like hell.
Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Oxford High School shooting: Tate Myre sacrificed for others