After Splash Park Shooting, Michigan Community Feels a Familiar Pain

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One day after a shooting in a splash park in suburban Detroit injured nine people, including children, residents on Sunday were struggling to process what happened, with bafflement, fear and shock.

“It was hard to go to sleep last night. It’s hard to function this morning,” said Alex Roser, a 33-year-old pharmacy technician who said he grew up in the area.

On Saturday afternoon, a gunman opened fire at a splash pad — a play area for children with blue cylinders that spray water — in Rochester Hills. The police identified the shooter as Michael William Nash, 42, and said that the handgun recovered at the scene was legally purchased in 2015 and registered to him.

Authorities said that a motive was not yet known but that the attack appeared to be random. Mr. Nash was found dead with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound later on Saturday in his home nearby, they said.

The wounded included an 8-year-old boy, a 4-year-old boy and their 39-year-old mother, authorities said. Others at the park that day were a city employee and 14 of his friends and family members. The city employee’s wife was shot, Mayor Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills said Sunday. He added that two of the victims were in critical condition, while the others were stable.

As the community reeled, it was not lost on residents that this was the second shooting in the area in recent years: In 2021 at Oxford High School in the same county, a student fatally shot four of his classmates and injured seven others. And many were horrified that this time it happened so close to their home, in a city that promotes itself on its website as one of the safest in America.

At a news conference on Sunday, David Coulter, the Oakland County executive, lamented the fact that officials were already familiar with responding to this type of shootings. “We’re getting all too good at this, and I’m disgusted by it.”

On Sunday, mental health professionals with the Oakland Community Health Network offered counseling services to members of the community affected by the shooting in a the cafeteria of a city building.

Trisha Zizumbo, the chief operating officer of the health network, recalled providing similar services after the Oxford High shooting.

“Unfortunately, we learned a lot” from going through the situation in Oxford, Ms. Zizumbo said. “I feel like we did a better job this time of setting up quicker and faster and knowing what to do, unfortunately, in a tragedy like this.”

Rochester Hills is an affluent suburb of 76,000 just 28 miles north of Detroit, with a larger population of older residents. It is a city laden with strip malls without a clearly defined downtown area, but its neighboring city of Rochester is well known across the state for its holiday light display.

Mayor Barnett said the city would review all procedures that were taken while responding to the shooting, but at this point, he said nothing jumped out as a failure.

Mr. Barnett, who has served as mayor since 2006, pointed out that the shooting took place in “one of the most vulnerable places.”

“You know who’s going to be at a splash pad on a sunny afternoon. It’s kids, and most likely it’s kids under 10,” he said.

Mr. Nash lived in Dequindre Estates, a small, quiet neighborhood of trailer homes less than two miles from the scene. He was believed to have lived with his mother, the Oakland County sheriff said, and was apparently undergoing mental health challenges but had no prior contact with the police.

Kyleen Duchene McDougal, 61, lives next to Mr. Nash’s home and said while she had known him for a long time, they never had in-depth conversations. Mr. Nash’s mother recently left for a cross-country trip, Ms. Duchene McDougal said, and before the trip, she expressed concern about leaving her son alone for a long period of time because of his mental health issues.

Other neighbors recalled their shock and fear when the police came looking for Mr. Nash on Saturday in their neighborhood, which they described as a safe place where children ride bikes, and families have picnics in a gazebo and fish in the community pond.

Mr. Roser, who lives three doors down from Mr. Nash’s house, said he grew up in Rochester Hills and “didn’t move out of here because I felt safe.” So the thought of a shooting so close to his home was “sickening,” he said.

He added that he saw Mr. Nash that morning mowing his lawn, noting that “he didn’t look distressed. He looked like he was just cutting his grass.”

Kyle LaFerle, 40, a contractor, said he went for a walk in the neighborhood on Sunday and found on the ground what appeared to be a part of a bullet. Mr. LaFerle, who lives around the corner from Mr. Nash’s residence, said that no place is immune to shootings.

“It goes to show you that it happens everywhere,” he said.



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