A 15-year-old student opened fire at his Michigan high school on Tuesday, killing three other students and wounding eight other people, authorities say.
Oakland county undersheriff Mike McCabe identified the three students who were killed as a 16-year-old boy and two girls, ages 14 and 17. He said two of the wounded were undergoing surgery as of Tuesday evening and six others were in stable condition. One of the people wounded was a schoolteacher, authorities said.
The suspect’s motives for the attack at Oxford high school in Oxford Township, near Detroit, were not yet known, McCabe said at a news conference.
“A 15-year-old sophomore student of Oxford high school has been taken into custody and the handgun was recovered,” a statement from the sheriff’s office said. “There was no resistance during the arrest and the suspect has asked for a lawyer and has not made any statements as to a motive.”
McCabe said investigators would be looking through social media posts for any evidence of a possible motive. McCabe said the suspect’s parents visited him where he is being held and advised their son not to talk to investigators, as is his right. He said as far as he knows, the suspect had no prior run-ins with law enforcement.
The sheriff’s office said the first call to emergency services was placed at 12.51pm “about an active shooter at Oxford high school”, adding that the dispatch “received over 100 911 calls during the incident”. According to police, the incident unfolded in about five minutes and about 15 to 20 shots were fired.
Oxford Township is a small town of about 22,000 people located roughly 30 miles north of Detroit. More than 100 police officers, including the FBI special agent in charge, and 60 ambulances responded to the incident.
Officers arrested the suspect and recovered a semi-automatic handgun, the sheriff’s office said, adding that it did not think there had been more than one attacker. Authorities did not immediately identify the suspected shooter.
A medical helicopter landed shortly after 2pm in the parking lot of the school.
“I’m shocked,” said Tim Throne, Oxford community schools superintendent. “It’s devastating,” he said, adding that the school does not have metal detectors and did not believe there had been discussions about that in the past. According to McCabe, authorities knew how the student brought the weapon into the school but did not elaborate.
Oxford high school students who were interviewed by reporters afterward described a chaotic scene in which a voice came on over the intercom to announce an active school shooter, according to the Detroit Free Press. They said they initially did not know whether it was a drill.
The school was placed on lockdown, with some students sheltering in locked classrooms while officers searched the premises. They were later taken to a nearby Meijer grocery store to be picked up by their parents.
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer called the shooting “horrific”, adding: “My heart breaks for the students, teachers, staff and families of Oxford high school. The death of multiple students and the shooting of many others, including a teacher, is horrific.”
Robin Redding said her son, Treshan Bryant, is a 12th grader at the school but stayed home on Tuesday. She said he had heard threats of a shooting at the school. “This couldn’t be just random,” she said.
Redding didn’t provide specifics about what her son had heard, but she expressed concern with school safety in general.
“Kids just, like they’re just mad at each other at this school,” she said.
Bryant said he texted several younger cousins in the morning and they said they didn’t want to go to school, and he got a bad feeling. He asked his mom if he could do his assignments online.
Bryant said he had heard vague threats “for a long time now” about plans for a shooting at the school.
“You’re not supposed to play about that,” he said of the threats. “This is real life.”
School administrators posted two letters to parents on the school’s website this month, saying they were responding to rumors of a threat against the school following a bizarre vandalism incident.
A vigil was planned for Tuesday evening.