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Couple hit by gunfire while protecting their children

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Micayla and Eric Coughlin and their young daughters were at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills for less than a minute on Saturday when a gunman pulled up in a vehicle and fired at least 28 shots at the families gathered there.

They had just gotten ice cream, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the Coughlins by a family friend. When they heard the gunshots, they grabbed their daughters, ages 2 and 7 months, to protect them. They succeeded.

However, the Coughlins were shot a total of seven times and remain in the hospital, according to the GoFundMe account set up by family friend Noel Wakul. The GoFundMe account has been verified by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The Coughlins were among nine people shot by the gunman, whom police identified as Michael William Nash, 42, of Shelby Township. Authorities described the scene as chaotic — people stumbling, falling and being hit by bullets as they tried to flee; ice cream cones and flip-flops were covered in blood.

According to police, other victims included an 8-year-old boy in critical condition with a head wound and a 4-year-old boy in stable condition with a wound to his thigh. A 39-year-old woman with gunshot wounds to her abdomen and leg was also in critical condition.

The tragedy at the Rochester Hills wading pool was just one of three mass shootings that occurred in Michigan on Saturday, all in the Detroit metropolitan area. In Lathrup Village, six people were shot at a house party just after midnight on Friday. Two of them are in critical condition. In Detroit, a woman and four other people were shot late Saturday night. The victims in both shootings were teenagers and young adults.

“We're getting too good at this,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said at a press conference on Sunday.

What happened on Saturday

“I can only describe the last 24 hours as a nightmare,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said Sunday. He said he never imagined his city would be mentioned in the same breath as other cities that have experienced mass shootings.

Barnett said he was crying when he reached the wading pool on Saturday, where police say Nash arrived around 5:11 p.m., got out of a vehicle, walked up the stairs to the wading pool platform and opened fire.

Nash reloaded his gun, shot the victims again, reloaded again and calmly left the scene, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. He described the shooting as “very random” and “bizarre.” The suspect has no known ties to the victims.

Police were on the scene in less than two minutes, Bouchard said. By that time, the shooter had already left and was hiding in a nearby house in Shelby Township. A gun, a 9mm Glock, and three magazines were recovered at the scene.

Bouchard said after attempts to contact the suspect failed, drones were used to investigate the house where Nash was found dead. He had apparently inflicted a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Also inside the house was what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle on the kitchen table, Bouchard said. He suspected Nash may have had plans for a “second chapter.”

Bouchard described the Rochester Hills tragedy as a “punch in the gut,” citing the November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School, where 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and killed four classmates, and the February 2023 shooting at Michigan State University, where three students were killed.

More: Rochester Hills wading pool shooting suspect identified by Oakland County Sheriff's Office

More: Police: 9 injured, suspect dead after shooting at paddling pool in Rochester Hills

Community members’ reactions to the tragedy

Many in the Rochester Hills community are still shocked and describe their city as a safe place where tragedies such as mass shootings are unknown.

At the Dequindre Estates mobile home park in Shelby Township, where Nash lived with his mother, neighbors like Paul McCracken didn't know what was going on or how serious the situation was until police issued an evacuation warning for surrounding homes around 6 p.m. Saturday.

McCracken told the Free Press on Sunday that residents were not given permission to return until much later in the night, so he and his family were forced to spend the night at another family member's house. They returned home Sunday afternoon, while some other evacuated neighbors were reportedly still too distressed to return to their homes.

Adam Urauhart Sr. and his nine-year-old son Adam Jr. were fishing at the lake in downtown Dequindre Estates on Saturday when they saw “about a hundred” police cars race into the neighborhood.

“We're fishing and minding our business, and all of a sudden there are guys walking down the street with bulletproof vests and AR-15 rifles,” the father said. “I just thought, 'Yeah, it's time to go home.'”

The senior Urauhart, who was visiting his son who lives with his mother at the park, said he used to live just a few blocks from the water park and later lived in the neighborhood, which made the tragedy even more horrific for him.

“Everyone knows everyone here. It's a small park, everyone here is nice, so everyone looks out for each other,” he said.

“This is a safe neighborhood, and that's why I'm so shocked by what happened,” he continued. “When it happens so close to home, it's tough.”

A neighbor named Carol, who declined to give her last name, said she knew the suspect and his mother. She said the two were out and about before her son allegedly opened fire at the water park.

“The mother wasn't that bad, but he gave me a bad feeling,” Carol said of Nash.

Amber Holliday, who grew up in Dequindre Estates and got to know many of the neighbors while riding her bike through the neighborhood during her childhood, says she and her partner, Josh, also did not know the suspect or his family.

“He probably wasn't someone who was outside. I never saw him,” said Josh, who declined to give his last name.

The couple said they frequently visit the wading pool with their 8-month-old son, Zayden. Josh even considered taking Zayden to the wading pool shortly before Saturday's shooting, but decided to put him down for a nap instead.

Shortly thereafter, Josh's phone exploded with worried texts and calls from relatives asking if the young family was okay.

On this warm Sunday afternoon, Josh said, the neighborhood was eerily empty. Normally, the streets would be full of kids riding bikes and skateboarding and families fishing and spending time at the lake, especially on a holiday like Father's Day, but his family was one of the few in the neighborhood spending the afternoon outdoors.

Although Dequindre Estates is still Holliday's home and she isn't letting the tragedy drive her away, she now feels she has to be cautious around neighbors she doesn't know well, she says.

Andrea Sahouri covers criminal justice for the Detroit Free Press. Reach her at 313-264-0442 or [email protected].