By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
Three Oxford High School (OHS) students — Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Julian, 14; and Madisyn Baldwin, 17 — were killed Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 30), and a fourth, Justin Shilling, 17, died late Wednesday morning after a 15 year-old student opened fire during school hours. Others were wounded.
On Tuesday the eight wounded people — seven students and one teacher — were transported to hospitals in Pontiac and Lapeer. Four were in stable condition while four were in either “serious” or “critical” condition, as of a 10 p.m. press conference according to Sheriff Michael Bouchard. Each victim and their families have an assigned Oakland County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) deputy.
Justin Shilling passed at 10 a.m. Wednesday at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac from the gunshot wounds he received.
First calls from the school came in around 12:50 p.m., and the suspect turned himself over to OCSO deputies after five minutes. He has since been moved to Oakland County Children’s Village.
Bouchard said the suspect used a Sig Sauer SP2022 9mm handgun and three magazines, firing at least 12 rounds and still carrying seven rounds when he surrendered to OCSO deputies. The suspect’s father purchased the gun on Nov. 26, just four days prior to the attack. The suspect and family are not speaking with authorities without legal counsel. Pictures apparently indicating the suspect in possession of the handgun have been identified by the OCSO. A search warrant is being executed on the suspect’s Oxford Village home.
OCSO Undersheriff Michael McCabe said there is a possibility the suspect will be charged and tried as an adult, though the decision rests with county prosecutors. The suspect was not involved in an incident where a deer head and red paint were used to vandalize the school on Nov. 4 or incidents referenced in a Nov. 12 message from Oxford Community Schools (OCS). The suspect is under suicide watch according to Oakland County Executive David Coulter.
Students evacuated through several methods. The Meijer on M-24 served as the designated evacuation point, with many students and parents reuniting there into the evening. Students with personal transport were allowed to leave the school. Students also left the scene and gathered near a group of ambulances on Oxford Rd.
All OCS classes are canceled and all schools, including Oxford Early Learning Center, are closed for the remainder of the week. OHS is being searched as a “fairly large” crime scene, McCabe adding that all students will be approached for any information they have regarding the shooting. Community members with information are encouraged to contact the OCSO’s dispatch center at 248-858-4911.
“If [the public] know anything at all about this young man or what was gonna happen or what happened today, they can call us,” McCabe said at a 5 p.m. press conference also attended by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
OCS was praised multiple times by OCSO officials for the preventative measures that were taken. The district has worked with the sheriff’s office on active shooter training, has numerous security cameras and a several step process for letting guests into the building. The school bans backpacks as part of its dress code, only allowing small bags like purses or drawstring bags. OHS does not have metal detectors and does not check bags.
Police, fire departments and medical transporters from all corners of metro Detroit and Lapeer County responded to calls for help. The FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals are helping with the investigation.
Robin Redding, parent of an OHS senior, told reporters in the aftermath of the shooting that her son chose to attend remotely due to threats and rumors circulating among students on social media. Rumors were floating around the community prior to Tuesday’s events, though Bouchard said the sheriff’s office was not made aware of these until the shooting occurred.
“I can tell you that nothing came to the sheriff’s office and nothing came to our school liaison,” Bouchard said.
Whitmer declined to put forth any policy statements when asked, but shared her thoughts on the situation.
“This is an uniquely American problem that we need to address, but at this juncture I think we need to focus on the community, the families, supporting all the first responders including the incredible people at our hospitals who are working so hard to save the lives of those who are fighting for their lives right now,” Whitmer said. “I think this is every parent’s worst nightmare.”