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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Guardian staff and agencies

Nine injured including two children in Michigan shooting at public splash pad

Oakland County sheriff technicians document the scene where a shooting took place at Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Oakland County sheriff technicians document the scene where a shooting took place at Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Nine people, including two children, have been shot and wounded at a city-run water park near Detroit in what appeared to be a random attack, police have said.

Two children were among the victims, including an eight-year-old who was shot in the head and is in critical condition, after a shooter opened fire at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad park, where families had gathered to escape the summer heat.

Authorities on Sunday identified the man who opened fire at a splash pad in suburban Detroit before taking his own life, but his motives remained unknown as investigators worked to determine if he left behind any hint of his plans.

An Oakland county sheriff’s spokesperson, Stephen Huber, said the shooter was 42-year-old Michael William Nash of Shelby Township. Sheriff Mike Bouchard said on Saturday evening that the gunman had no prior criminal history but apparently suffered privately from what the sheriff called “mental health challenges”.

“It’s our understanding that he was undergoing some mental health challenges, but no one that we know of was notified,” Bouchard said during an evening news conference.

Authorities said Nash drove to suburban Rochester Hills, Michigan, on Saturday and opened fire at a splash pad in a city park around 5pm. A splash pad is a recreational area with a nonslip surface where people can play in fountains and water sprays.

The sheriff said Nash fired as many as 28 times, stopping several times to reload.

In the chaos, “people were falling, getting hit, trying to run,” Bouchard said. “Terrible things that unfortunately all of us in our law enforcement business have seen way too much.”

The gunman was “apparently in no rush. Just calmly walked back to his car,” the sheriff said.

Nine people were injured, including an eight-year-old boy who was shot in the head; his four-year-old brother, who was shot in the leg; and the boys’ mother, who was wounded in the abdomen and leg.

The eight-year-old boy and the mother were both listed in critical condition on Saturday evening. The four-year-old was in stable condition. The six other victims, all at least 30 years old, were in stable condition on Saturday night. Huber, the sheriff’s spokesperson, said all the victims’ conditions were unchanged as of Sunday morning.

Police heard the 911 call reporting the shooting as it came in, Bouchard said, because the agency uses a service that simultaneously sends emergency calls to first responders. An officer was at the scene within two minutes, he said.

Bouchard said the first deputies who arrived immediately began providing first aid including tourniquets. Officers also were able to quickly come up with a likely address, and a car matching the suspect’s vehicle was at the residence.

Deputies surrounded the home and tried to make contact with the suspect inside to no avail, Bouchard said. After deploying a drone, they eventually entered the home and found the suspect dead inside.

Another weapon was found in the home, and the quick containment of the suspect may have prevented a “second chapter” to the shooting, the sheriff said.

A handgun and three empty magazines were recovered at the scene of the shootings, the sheriff said.

Police cordoned off the area with tape, and dozens of yellow evidence markers lay on the ground among colorful folding chairs.

“When I got on scene I started to cry because I know what a splash pad is supposed to be,” the Rochester Hills mayor, Bryan Barnett, said – a place where people gather and have fun.

The shooting was a reminder “that we live in a fragile place,” Barnett said.

Rochester Hills is about 30 miles (50km) north of Detroit. The neighboring community, Oxford Township, also in Oakland county, was the scene of a 2021 mass school shooting in which student Ethan Crumbley, then 15, killed four students and wounded six other students and a teacher at Oxford high school.

“It’s a gut punch, obviously, for us here in Oakland county,” Bouchard said. “We’ve gone through so many tragedies, you know. We’re not even fully comprehending what happened at Oxford.”

Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, said on X, “I am heartbroken to learn about the shooting in Rochester Hills.”

In the US as of Saturday, there had been more than 215 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The non-partisan online resource defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more victims are wounded or killed.

Such a high rate of mass shootings in the US has prompted calls to Congress for lawmakers to pass more substantial gun-control measures, but such requests have largely gone unheeded.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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