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Police identify Michigan splash pad shooter but there's still no word on a motive

Police respond to the scene of a shooting at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad, Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Rochester Hills, Mich. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says there are “numerous wounded victims” after police were called for an active shooter. (WXYZ via AP) Police respond to the scene of a shooting at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad, Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Rochester Hills, Mich. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says there are “numerous wounded victims” after police were called for an active shooter. (WXYZ via AP)
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ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -

Authorities on Sunday identified the man who opened fire at a splash pad in suburban Detroit before taking his own life, but his motives remained unknown as investigators worked to determine if he left behind any hint of his plans.

Oakland County Sheriff’s spokesperson Stephen Huber said the shooter was 42-year-old Michael William Nash of Shelby Township. Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Saturday evening that the gunman had no prior criminal history but apparently suffered privately from what the sheriff called “mental health challenges.”

“It’s our understanding that he was undergoing some mental health challenges, but no one that we know of was notified,” Bouchard said during an evening news conference.

Authorities said Nash drove to suburban Rochester Hills on Saturday and opened fire at a splash pad in a city park around 5 p.m. A splash pad is a recreational area with a nonslip surface where people can play in fountains and water sprays.

The sheriff said Nash fired as many as 28 times, stopping several times to reload.

In the chaos, “people were falling, getting hit, trying to run,” Bouchard said. “Terrible things that unfortunately all of us in our law enforcement business have seen way too much.”

The gunman was “apparently in no rush. Just calmly walked back to his car,” the sheriff said.

Nine people were injured, including an eight-year-old boy who was shot in the head; his four-year-old brother, who was shot in the leg; and the boys’ mother, who was wounded in the abdomen and leg.

The eight-year-old boy and the mother were both listed in critical condition on Saturday evening. The four-year-old was in stable condition. The six other victims, all at least 30 years old, were in stable condition on Saturday night. Huber, the sheriff’s spokesperson, said all the victims’ conditions were unchanged as of Sunday morning.

Nash eventually fled but apparently left his gun behind. Investigators were able to use the weapon’s registration information to track him back to the home in Shelby Township he shared with his mother. When police arrived, they found a car that matched the gunman’s vehicle.

Deputies surrounded the home and eventually entered to find the suspect was dead. Bouchard said the man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Deputies discovered a handgun next to the body and a semiautomatic rifle on the kitchen table. Bouchard said Saturday that Nash may have been planning a “second chapter” to the shooting.

Nash’s neighbors told the Detroit News that Nash’s father died two years ago and he lived with his mother, who has been traveling the United States.

“He’s a loner. The blinds are always pulled over there,” neighbor Kyleen Duchene told the newspaper.

Nash’s mother was “super friendly and nice” but Nash himself rarely left the house, neighbor Alex Roser said.

“And when he did, he didn’t even say ‘hi’ back to us when we would acknowledge him," Roser said. "He was very quiet and didn’t want to be a part of our community.”

Bouchard said that Nash had no connections to the splash pad or any of the victims. Investigators will try to determine if he left behind any writings and examine his electronic devices in hopes of shedding light on his motive.

“In terms of the ‘why,’ I don’t know,” Bouchard said.

Rochester Hills is about 15 miles (24 kilometres) south of Oxford, where in 2021 a 15-year-old fatally shot four high school students. Saturday’s shooting came at the end of the first full week of summer vacation for students attending Rochester Community schools.

“I love my community and my heart breaks today,” Rochester Mayor Bryan Barnett said. “When I got on scene I started to cry because I know what a splash pad is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a place where people gather, where families make memories, where people have fun.”

Bouchard called the attack “a gut punch” for the county.

“We’ve gone through so many tragedies,” the sheriff said. "We’re not even fully comprehending what happened at Oxford. And, you know, now we have another complete tragedy that we’re dealing with.”

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