“We grabbed calculators, we grabbed scissors just in case the shooter got in and we had to attack them,” he said, describing how the shooter was so close that a bullet pierced one of the desks he and other students used to block the door.
Officers who rushed to the scene at Oxford High School on Tuesday also made split-second decisions as the scale of the horror took shape following the mass shooting. The suspect — a 15-year-old sophomore — was taken into custody without incident two to three minutes after authorities responded to the shooting, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said..
One of the three students killed died in a patrol car as a deputy decided to transport 16-year-old Tate Myre due to the “severity of his wound,” Bouchard said during a news conference Tuesday night. “Sadly, that child died in the car,” he said.
Two other students killed in the shooting were identified by investigators as Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17.
Eight others — seven students and a teacher — were shot, Bouchard said. Three are in critical condition with gunshot wounds, including a 14-year-old girl who is on a ventilator following surgery.
A 14-year-old boy is in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the jaw and head, Bouchard said. Three students are listed as stable and the teacher who was shot has been discharged.
The suspect, who has not been identified by police, is being held at Oakland County Children’s Village, a juvenile detention facility. He was placed on suicide watch and was being checked on every 15 minutes, said Oakland County Executive David Coulter.
The fast-acting police ‘literally saved lives,’ sheriff says
The weapon deputies said was used in the shooting, a 9MM Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol, was purchased by the suspect’s father on November 26, four days before shots rang out at the school, Bouchard said.
The suspect’s parents hired an attorney and instructed the teen not to talk to investigators, Undersheriff Michael G. McCabe said.
Two 15-round magazines were found at the scene, Bouchard said, noting at least 12 rounds were fired, Bouchard said.
Bouchard praised the work of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies that responded Tuesday, saying their coordination and prior active shooter training proved invaluable.
Deputies were dispatched to the school at 12:52 p.m. and the suspect was in custody within three minutes of their arrival, Bouchard said.
As deputies were making their way through the school, they encountered the suspect who then put his hands up, Bouchard said. Deputies took the gun and placed the suspect in custody.
The weapon was loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, Bouchard said. “I believe they literally saved lives, having taken down the suspect with a loaded firearm still in the building.”
A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home, McCabe said. Bouchard said authorities seized a phone and are examining other seized items.
While Bouchard said authorities were not aware of prior concerns, they are investigating pictures of a target and the weapon posted on social media by the suspect.
Students scrambled out a window to safety, video shows
As hundreds of law enforcement officers swarmed the campus, students and teachers relied on tactics they’ve learned in active shooter drills to protect themselves.
“This district has been very good in training their personnel and their students on active shooters,” McCabe, the undersheriff, said Tuesday.
Freshman Mark Kluska said his teacher, Moises Cortez, immediately took action after a lockdown was announced over the school’s loudspeakers.
“He shut the door and put like a metal doorstopper so no one would be able to kick in the door.” Kluska told CNN. “After he turned off the lights, he told us to get to the corner because this might not be a drill and he wants to be safe.”
A video shot by Kluska shows the students eventually scrambling out of a first-floor window into a snow-covered area then racing for safety.
Multiple people were injured as they were rushing out of the school, Bouchard said. Most were treated and released at a nearby staging area.
Donna Sanders told CNN her youngest grandchild was changing classes when he heard gunshots. He told her he and others ran through an exit door and went to a nearby grocery store to escape.
“He was able to run to safety with others while his brother was trapped inside,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ daughter, Vontysha Pittman, said her oldest son sought safety in a classroom with a teacher and other students. He hid under a desk and called his father to tell him what was happening, she said.
“They are both are safe at home but they are broken. We need prayers and not just for us but all the families at Oxford,” Sanders said.
Senior Aiden Page told CNN’s Cooper that his classroom was in lockdown for an hour and described the entire experience as “insane” as he contemplated whether he would live through the ordeal.
“The very first thing in my head was, ‘Is this actually happening? I’m going to text my family, say I love them just in case, if I were to die.’ Then when everything calmed down for a second, I was able to catch my breath and rationalize things,” he said.
‘There are no unwounded students or staff today’
Prosecutors are weighing the evidence and will decide whether to charge the suspect as an adult.
Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald said in a statement Tuesday her office has “begun the process of receiving information regarding the investigation” into the shooting. “It is our intent to review it thoroughly and issue appropriate charges quickly.”
As investigators are combing the school for evidence, community leaders said they will work to heal the shattered sense of security in the days ahead.
“There are no unwounded students or staff today. Everybody in the Oxford community, Oakland County, and frankly, the United States has been impacted by this tragedy, said Coulter, the Oakland County executive. “Tragedies like this rip away at our security … a security and a peace that should be rightfully ours in a place like a school.”
“I think this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who added that shootings at schools are “a uniquely American problem that we need to address.”
“My heart goes out to the families. This is an unimaginable tragedy. I hope we can all rise to the occasion and wrap our arms around the families, the affected children and school personnel and this community,” Whitmer said.
CNN’s Laura Ly, Caroll Alvarado, Patrick Cornell, Tanika Gray and Alex Harring contributed to this report.