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After the Splash Park shooting, the Michigan community feels a familiar pain

A day after a shooting at a water park in suburban Detroit left nine people, including children, injured, residents were left Sunday filled with disbelief, fear and shock at what had happened.

“I could hardly sleep last night. This morning I can hardly function,” says Alex Roser, a 33-year-old pharmaceutical technician who grew up in the area.

On Saturday afternoon, a gunman opened fire at a splash pad – a children's playground with blue splash pads that spray water – in Rochester Hills. Police identified the gunman as Michael William Nash, 42, and said the handgun seized at the scene was legally purchased in 2015 and registered to him.

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

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

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

At a press conference on Sunday, Oakland County Executive David Coulter lamented that officers were already used to responding to such shootings. “We're getting better at it and that disgusts me.”

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

Trisha Zizumbo, the health network's COO, recalled providing similar services after the Oxford High School shooting.

“Unfortunately, we have learned a lot,” Ms Zizumbo said of the situation in Oxford. “I think we have done a better job this time by preparing quicker and faster and knowing what to do when a tragedy like this unfortunately occurs.”

Rochester Hills is an affluent suburb of 76,000 residents, 30 miles north of Detroit, with a large portion of the population being older. It is a city full of shopping malls with no clearly defined downtown area, but the neighboring city of Rochester is known throughout the state for its Christmas lights.

Mayor Barnett said the city will review all procedures taken in responding to the shooting, but he has not seen any errors at this time.

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

“You know who's going to be in a paddling pool on a sunny afternoon. It's kids, and most likely they're kids under 10,” he said.

Mr. Nash lived in Dequindre Estates, a small, quiet trailer park less than two miles from the crime scene. He was believed to have been living with his mother, the Oakland County sheriff said. He apparently suffered from mental health issues but had no previous contact with police.

Kyleen Duchene McDougal, 61, lives next door to Mr. Nash's house and said that although she has known him for a long time, they have never had any deep conversations. Mr. Nash's mother recently left for a cross-country trip, Ms. Duchene McDougal said, and before the trip she expressed her concerns about She left her son alone for long periods of time because of his mental problems.

Other neighbors recalled their shock and fear when police came to their neighborhood on Saturday to search for Mr. Nash. They described the neighborhood as a safe place where children ride bikes and families picnic at a gazebo and fish in the community pond.

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

He added that he had seen Mr Nash mowing the lawn that morning, noting: “He didn't look worried. It looked like he was just mowing his lawn.”

Kyle LaFerle, 40, a construction contractor, said he was walking in the neighborhood on Sunday and found what looked like part of a bullet on the ground. Mr. LaFerle, who lives around the corner from Mr. Nash's house, said no place is immune to shootings.

“This shows that it is happening everywhere,” he said.