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Fourth student dies in Michigan school shooting as small town grasps for answers

Authorities have not yet uncovered a motive for the suspect who refuses to speak and wants a lawyer.

OXFORD, Mich. (CN) — The death toll from a high school shooting in Michigan climbed to four Wednesday morning after a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire on students and teachers with his dad's semi-automatic gun at Oxford High School, according to authorities.

Three students were pronounced dead after the shooting Tuesday and a fourth victim succumbed to his injuries Wednesday morning. Eight others were injured, including a teacher.

The suspected shooter, who has not been publicly identified since he is a minor and has not yet been formally charged, lives in Oxford and he used a handgun his father purchased on Black Friday, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said in a press conference late Tuesday evening. 

The weapon used was a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol, according to Bouchard. The suspect had at least two 15-round magazines, including one with seven remaining rounds. When sheriffs deputies apprehended him, he was walking down the hall with the loaded weapon in hand but put his hands up and surrendered when prompted.

Bouchard estimated the quick reaction by authorities prevented seven more deaths.

“Our community, Oakland County specifically, has prepared as well as any community in the nation,” he said. “Oxford has been one of those districts that has been proactive and has been training.”

Bouchard could not provide any insight on why the father purchased the gun days ago and said the family was in the process of hiring a lawyer.

“They aren’t talking to us,” the sheriff said.

Bouchard told CNN on Wednesday that investigators found writings that contain the shooter’s thoughts and that surveillance footage shows his aggressiveness.

"The evidence I've seen shows he was very clearly trying to kill people," he said. “He was shooting people at close range often times toward the head or chest."

Oxford, population 3,586, is in central Oakland County, about 40 miles north of Detroit.

People attending a vigil embrace at LakePoint Community Church in Oxford, Mich., on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, following a school shooting. (Paul Sancya/AP)

The three students killed Tuesday were identified as Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17.

Myre, a member of the school’s football team, died in route to a hospital as he was transported in a sheriff’s patrol car. 

A fourth student, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac on Wednesday morning, police said.

Among the victims who survived were a 15-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the head, a 17-year-old girl who was shot in the chest, a 14-year-old boy who suffered gunshot wounds to the jaw and hand, a 17-year-old girl who was shot in the neck, a 15-year-old boy who was hit in the leg and a 17-year-old boy who was shot in the hip.

A 47-year-old teacher was released from the hospital when she was treated for minor injuries on her shoulder from a bullet grazing her.

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter noted it is not just the gunshot victims who are hurting.

"Three precious teenagers have been taken from us and another seven students and a teacher were wounded, but in a larger sense there are no unwounded students or staff today," he said. "Everybody in the Oxford community, in Oakland County, and frankly, the United States, has been impacted by this tragedy. 

He added, “Tragedies like this rip away at our security.”

Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin also spoke at the press conference Tuesday night and acknowledged the gravity of the day’s events.

“Obviously a deeply dark day in Michigan’s history. The trend we have seen all over the country has come to us," Slotkin said.

She added, “If you want to take anything from today’s events, I will just say the law enforcement and first responders, this is not every county that can do what happened today. As someone who worked at the Pentagon and the CIA and served in Iraq, this is not every community that can do this. The training that went on within that school absolutely I believe saved lives.”

A tweet posted Tuesday afternoon from a HuffPost editor and Detroit native showed a terrifying scene in a classroom as students debated whether a voice on the other side of a barricaded door was a sheriff's deputy. The voice reportedly belonged to the gunman.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, published a statement that praised the reaction of responders and said flags would be lowered statewide in honor of the victims. 

"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. I want to thank the first responders on the ground working hard to keep people safe as law enforcement officials investigate this shooting and get the community the help it needs right now," she said. “This is a time for us to come together and help our children feel safe at school.”

President Joe Biden also offered his condolences when he became aware of the incident.

“As we learn the full details, my heart goes out to the families enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one,” he said. “You got to know that that whole community has to be just in a state of shock right now.”

Biden was told of the school shooting by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in advance of a Tuesday tour at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, the White House said. 

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