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Michigan splash pad shooter found dead; wounded victims include two boys

Nine people were shot at a splash pad in Rochester Hills Saturday after a gunman got out of a vehicle and unloaded 28 gunshots from a handgun in a “random” act at the streetside park, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. (Dreamstime/TNS)

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. — Nine people were shot at a splash pad in Rochester Hills around 5:11 p.m. Saturday after a gunman got out of a vehicle and unloaded 28 gunshots from a handgun in a “random” act at the streetside park, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

Sheriff’s deputies later found the 42-year-old white male suspect dead Saturday night at a home in Shelby Township after police breached the home with a drone, Bouchard said.

The alleged shooter might have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police were surrounding the home, the sheriff said. Officers on site did not hear the gunshot.

The shooter acknowledged police attempts to contact him, but officials did not establish full communication with the man, Bouchard said.

The gunman drove up to the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad along Auburn Road in Rochester Hills, Michigan, got out of a vehicle, opened fire with a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun, reloaded, fired and then reloaded a second time, leaving three bullet magazines at the scene, the sheriff said.

Police later recovered the magazine and handgun, which was registered to the shooter, helping lead investigators to the suspect’s home, Bouchard said. At the splash pad park, shell casings were scattered across the sidewalk and marked with yellow evidence markers for each bullet fired.

Police also found at least two weapons inside the home where the suspected shooter died, including a handgun and what appears to be an “AR platform” semiautomatic rifle that was on the kitchen table, Bouchard said.

“If he had planned to do anything else, that wouldn’t surprise me because having that on the kitchen table is not an everyday activity,” the sheriff said. “There was probably something else — a second chapter, potentially.”

The suspect had no prior contact with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, had no criminal history and is believed to have lived with his mother, who was not home during the incident, Bouchard said.

Investigators were processing the scene at the home of the suspected shooter late Saturday night, he said.

Earlier, Bouchard initially said there were up to 10 shooting victims with “varying kinds of injuries.” His office later revised the victim count to nine because one of the hospitals double-counted one of the victims, the sheriff said.

One of the shooting victims is an eight-year-old boy who was shot in the head and is in critical condition. A relative of that boy, a 4-year-old boy, was shot in the thigh but is considered stable, Bouchard said.

And a 39-year-old woman sustained gunshot wounds to her abdomen and legs and also is in critical condition, the sheriff said.

“That’s all from one family,” Bouchard said of the two boys and woman.

The oldest victim was a 78-year-old man, he said, and another pair of victims are a husband and a wife.

Shooting a ‘gut punch’

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said it was a “horrible” scene with children among the victims. One of the adult female shooting victims is a city employee, Barnett said.

“When I got on scene, I started to cry because I know what a splash pad is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a place where people gather and families make memories, where people have fun and enjoy a Saturday afternoon,” Barnett said. “What normally happens in our city, didn’t happen today.”

Earlier, when addressing reporters at 7:30 p.m. near the Rochester Hills park, Bouchard said the shooting appeared “very random” and there was no known connection to any of the victims, who were transported to at four area hospitals.

A spokeswoman for Corewell Health confirmed late Saturday night that some of the victims were transported to one of its hospitals. Corewell’s Beaumont Troy Hospital is two miles from the shooting scene.

“Our hearts are with those who were impacted by the shooting that occurred in Rochester Hills,” Corewell Health Chantele Telegadas said in an email. “We can confirm our team is caring for some of the victims, but we are not releasing any additional information.”

Bouchard said the gunman was initially contained in the home in Shelby Township less than two miles from the splash pad park. There was an effort to make contact with the man, Bouchard said.

Bouchard called the shooting a “gut punch” for Oakland County and sheriff’s deputies after they responded to the November 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School and assisted other police agencies during the February 2023 shooting on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. Four students died and seven individuals were wounded in the Oxford mass shooting, while three students died and five others were injured in the MSU mass shooting.

“In my worst nightmare, I couldn’t imagine standing up here talking about another active shooter,” Bouchard said at a late night press conference.

Oakland County sheriff’s deputies were on scene within two minutes of a 911 call with the help of new technology that speeds up emergency response times, the sheriff said.

Jarrett Schmidt, 43, was visiting his mother’s home on nearby Culbertson Avenue when he noticed multiple cars racing past him on the residential street. Schmidt of Rochester Hills drove up the road to find several people wounded at the scene as emergency medical responders poured in, he said.

Schmidt said he dove into action, applying a tourniquet to some of the injured people before first responders fully stepped in. As a gun owner with a concealed carry license, Schmidt said he makes a habit of keeping a first aid kit with him.

One victim, the grandfather of a close family friend, had been shot several times in his stomach, Schmidt said.

“He was seated with his back to that alleyway,” Schmidt said. “The gentleman came up behind him and started shooting and kind of shot through him to get to everybody else.”

Community alerted

In neighboring Shelby Township, multiple police vehicles were assembled along Hamlin and Dequindre roads around 8 p.m. at the entrance of the Dequindre Estates mobile home park, less than two miles from the splash pad park in Rochester Hills.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office issued an emergency alert Saturday evening warning residents in Rochester Hills of an “active shooter located near Spencer Park” and urging them to “AVOID area and SEEK shelter.”

At 9:30 p.m., another emergency alert went out to cell phones users in Rochester Hills telling people they no longer needed to shelter in place, but urging them to stay away from the splash pad park.

The city-run splash pad faces Auburn Road and located between a T-Mobile cell phone store and Mozzarella’s, a pizzeria, west of the plaza. Streets in the vicinity of the splash pad park were closed by police and emergency personnel Saturday evening.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation since it provides police coverage to the city of Rochester Hills.

‘An American epidemic’

Several political leaders reacted Saturday evening to the shooting.

“I am heartbroken to learn about the shooting in Rochester Hills,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on X, formerly Twitter.

U.S. Rep. John James, a Republican who lives in Shelby Township and represents Rochester Hills in Congress, joined Bouchard at his press briefing and was seen on the scene earlier in the evening, along with Barnett.

“Under no circumstances in this country, particularly in Rochester Hills, should fathers be spending Father’s Day in a hospital,” James said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work — without politics. This is an American epidemic that we need to fix, gun violence needs to stop, and we are now most recently hit hardest by it.”

Barnett said he remembered texting condolences to mayors in Orlando, Las Vegas and Dayton, Ohio, among others, after mass shootings in those cities, but never expected he would have a mass shooting in the suburban Detroit community of about 76,000 residents.

“It is a mental reset. It is a reminder that we live in a fragile place with fragile people,” Barnett said. “And it is also a reminder to be grateful for professionals. There were a hundred firefighters and sheriff’s deputies out there today.”

The Oakland Community Health is providing mental health services from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Rochester Hills Department of Public Services building, 511 E. Auburn Road, for victims, their families and individuals who were at Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills at the time of the shooting, the county said in a new release. No appointment is needed.

The shooting came amid a simmering election year debate over guns and followed action Whitmer and a Democratic-controlled Legislature took last year after the February 2023 deadly shooting at Michigan State University to close loopholes in criminal background checks for long gun sales and require firearms to be safely secured in homes with children.

Michigan lawmakers also put a “red flag” law on the books that allows a judge to temporarily take away people’s weapons if they’re deemed a threat to themselves or others.

“Kids deserve to be safe from gun violence — whether at school, at home, or at a splash pad,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, wrote on X. “Whatever we are doing, it’s not enough.”

Republican State Sen. Michael Webber, who represents and lives in Rochester Hills, said he was heartbroken by the “horrific shooting.”

“I am praying for the victims and their families,” Webber said in a late Saturday statement. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to our first responders, including the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the Rochester Police Department and nearby paramedics who responded quickly. The Greater Rochester Area will remain a strong community, and we will support each other during this tragic time.”


(Staff writers George Hunter and Beth LeBlanc contributed.)


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