Shooting at Splash Pad: At least nine injured in Rochester Hills, Michigan

Rochester Hills, Michigan

Police are searching for a motive after at least nine people were shot in an apparently “random” shooting as they fled in panic from a crowded recreation area in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

Police identified the shooter Sunday as Michael William Nash, 42, of Shelby Township. He stopped at the Brooklands Plaza splash pad, exited his vehicle and opened fire from about 20 feet away, reloading multiple times, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Saturday. The suspect fired “possibly 28 times,” the sheriff said.

“Under no circumstances is it normal to have ice cream cones and flip-flops scattered among blood and bullet casings,” Michigan State Representative John James said at a press conference Saturday evening.

Nash was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in the home where he lived with his mother after police traced the firearm to an address about a half-mile from the crime scene, Bouchard said. Police found a rifle on the kitchen table.

According to Bouchard, Nash had no previous contact with the police and had no criminal record.

The victims, including two young children and their mother, were injured in the shooting and taken to four local hospitals with “various injuries,” the sheriff said. As of early Sunday morning, two of the victims were in critical condition and seven were in stable condition.

“When I got to the scene, I started crying,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said Saturday night. “Because I know what a wading pool is supposed to be. It's supposed to be a place where people gather, where families make memories, where people have fun and enjoy a Saturday afternoon, and that wasn't the case today.”

An 8-year-old boy is in critical condition after suffering a gunshot wound to the head, and his 4-year-old brother was shot in the thigh and is in stable condition, Bouchard said. Their 39-year-old mother, with injuries to her abdomen and leg, is also in critical condition.

Six other gunshot victims, including three women and three men between the ages of 30 and 78, were in stable condition Saturday night.

The incident appears to have been “random” because the suspect had “no connection to the victims” and authorities have not yet determined a motive for the attack, the sheriff said.

“We will look for evidence … that might give us some idea of ​​what might have driven this person before this terrible moment,” Bouchard said.

The shooting comes at a time when communities are still recovering from two mass shootings in the state in recent years. In February 2023, a gunman killed three Michigan State University students and seriously injured five others. A few years earlier, in 2021, a teenager killed four students at a high school in Oxford, Michigan.

“We don't even fully understand what happened in Oxford, and now we are faced with another tragedy,” Bouchard said.

The shooting is another of about 220 mass shootings that have occurred in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Like CNN, the archive defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, not including the shooter.


The scene of a shooting at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on Saturday, June 15, 2024.

Bouchard said the shooter arrived at the water playground and opened fire with a 9mm Glock pistol.

“It looked chaotic. You could see people enjoying the day and then it was a wild mess,” Bouchard said, pointing to a video of the shooting. “People were falling down, getting hit and trying to escape.”

According to a press release from the sheriff's office, detectives found 28 bullet casings at the scene.

“He started shooting after he got out of his car. He climbed the steps, reloaded and then fired from the top of the steps in the water play area before driving away. He seemed to do it in no hurry, just calmly walking back to his car,” Bouchard said.

A witness said she initially thought fireworks were being set off.

“We were sitting outside on the patio and heard what we thought were fireworks, but I guess they were gunshots because we heard people screaming, like, 'Help us, help us!'” Cheryl Delcotto told CNN. “So we ran around, I called 911, but I couldn't get through to anyone because I guess people had already called.”

The first 911 call alerting police to the incident came in around 5:11 p.m. Bouchard said a Rochester Hills sergeant was on the scene within two minutes – before the 911 call was made. By that time, the suspect had already fled the scene, according to Bouchard.

Authorities found the gun and three empty magazines at the crime scene, the sheriff said.


Police respond to the scene of a shooting at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan on Saturday, June 15, 2024.

Delcotto, who visited a home near the water playground when the shooting began, reported seeing bloodied victims and those helping.

“I saw people lying on the ground, I saw a guy who had been shot in the stomach sitting on a chair, an elderly man,” she said. Then she saw a man whose “son came out on a stretcher – with blood all over his face, and it was scary.”

After the shooting, police tracked the gun found at the scene to a nearby home, where they found a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle that drove away from the scene, according to the sheriff's office.

The suspect was unknown to authorities until they conducted a “quick investigation” and were able to use evidence from the crime scene to determine who they believed was involved in the incident.

Bouchard said police were able to lock down the house within 45 minutes to an hour. “There was confirmation that we were there and heard him or saw him,” Bouchard said.

After police attempted to make contact with the suspect, “they entered the home and used drones to begin investigating the home” and found the dead suspect, Bouchard said.

Police later found a handgun in the house next to the dead suspect. A drone that flew into the house as police surrounded it also found what appeared to be a firearm on an “AR platform” on the kitchen table, Bouchard said.

“It wouldn't surprise me – because having something like this on the kitchen table is not an everyday occurrence – that there's probably something else behind it, possibly a second chapter,” Bouchard said.

Police said the investigation is ongoing. They want to find out “if there is any digital or written trace that could give us clues” and piece together a timeline of the shooting. Whether the suspect posted relevant information on social media or if he stored anything on his devices will also be part of the investigation, officials said.

“It's going to be one of those challenges to figure out why there seems to be no connection between the victims and the location. One person doesn't live in Rochester Hills. They went to a park in Rochester Hills,” Bouchard said.

Authorities also secured video evidence from a nearby camera and were searching for bullet fragments, Bouchard said.

As the investigation continues and new details about the suspect emerge, a lawyer who represented Nash in a 2011 bankruptcy case remembers him as a “soft-spoken” person who suffered during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

“I remember Michael because he was very young to have to declare bankruptcy. He was another person who fell victim to the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis,” Kelli Meeks told CNN.

Although Meeks is a licensed attorney, according to the Michigan State Bar Association, she told CNN that she left her practice of law in 2021 to work as a consultant and leadership coach.

Nash wanted to start his own landscaping company, but after the financial crash, that didn't work out, according to Meeks.

She told CNN that Nash was about $21,000 in debt and that his car and gardening equipment had been repossessed.

“And he had medical bills to pay,” Meeks said. “He was a young man who was down on his luck.”

Bouchard called Saturday's incident a “punch in the gut” and stressed that the community is still reeling from the aftermath of the 2021 shooting at a high school in Oxford, just 15 miles north of Rochester Hills.

“None of us in this room, in this community or in this country expected that Father's Day weekend would begin with a tragedy of this nature that will deeply affect families forever,” the sheriff said Saturday.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement on X that she was in contact with local authorities following the shooting.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Rochester Hills,” she wrote. “We are monitoring the situation as updates continue to come in and are in contact with local authorities.”

President Joe Biden and White House officials are also following the shooting, White House spokesman Jeremy Edwards said.