Sheriff’s office recovers 11 guns from Michigan splash pad shooter’s home

Nine people were injured in an apparent “random” shooting at a Michigan recreation center on Saturday, and police are still searching for a motive.

Law enforcement recovered 11 guns from the home of the man authorities say opened fire at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan, but a clear motive continues to elude investigators days later, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in an update Monday.

“So far, we’ve not been able to uncover any written paper manifesto types of things,” Bouchard said.

The sheriff said the gunman, identified as Michael William Nash, 42, from Shelby Township, had two handguns at the scene and left one behind. Forensics teams also recovered 36 casings at the splash pad, the sheriff said.

Investigators have not yet confirmed if he legally owned all the weapons.

The shooter pulled up to the splash pad, exited a vehicle and opened fire from roughly 20 feet away, reloading multiple times, Bouchard said Saturday.

The shooting took place during a particularly violent weekend in America, with more than 14 mass shootings, including a shooting at a Juneteenth celebration in Texas that left two dead and more than 14 others injured, and a shooting at a car meetup in Massachusetts, where seven people were shot.

The weekend incidents are among more than 200 mass shootings in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The archive, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.

Nash, the suspect in the Michigan shooting, was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the home he shared with his mother after police tracked the weapon from the shooting to an address around half a mile from the crime scene, Bouchard said.

Police have not been able to communicate more with the gunman’s mother, who was out of state and has retained legal counsel, the sheriff said Monday.

Nash didn’t have any previous police contact or criminal record, according to Bouchard. To help with the investigation, law enforcement seized various electronics including a phone, computers and thumb drives, he said Monday.

The victims, including two small children and their mother, were injured in the shooting and taken to four local hospitals with “varying kinds of injuries,” the sheriff said.

“When I got on scene, I started to cry,” said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett on Saturday night. “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 and enjoy a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t today.”

“Under no circumstances is it normal for ice cream cones and flip flops to be strewn amongst blood and bullet casings,” said Michigan Rep. John James at a news conference Saturday night.

As of Monday afternoon, Bouchard said two victims remain in critical condition, but a 37-year-old woman and a 77-year-old man have been released from the hospital.

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

“The young child that had the head wound, he’s made amazing progress,” the sheriff said Monday.

The incident appears to be “random” as the suspect has “no connectivity to the victims,” the sheriff said. Authorities are looking into a possible motive but have yet to determine one, he added.

“It’s our understanding that apparently he was undergoing some mental health challenges,” Bouchard said during a news conference Saturday. He did not offer additional details.

The shooting comes as Michigan 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 critically wounded five others. And in 2021, a teenager killed four students at a high school in Oxford.

“We’re not even fully comprehending what happened at Oxford, and now we have another complete tragedy that we’re dealing with,” Bouchard said.

The scene of a shooting at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on Saturday. - WDIV
The scene of a shooting at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on Saturday. - WDIV

How the shooting unfolded at a crowded splash pad

Bouchard said the gunman arrived at the splash pad and opened fire with a Glock 9 mm handgun.

“It looked chaotic. You could see people kind of just enjoying the day and then it was a scramble,” Bouchard said, referencing video of the shooting. “People were falling, getting hit, trying to run.”

“He started firing once he was out of his car from the base of the steps, climbing the steps, reloading and then was firing from the top of the steps in the splash pad area before he left and appeared to leave in no rush, just calmly walked back to his car,” Bouchard said.

One witness said she first thought there were fireworks going off.

“We were sitting out on the patio and we heard what we thought was firecrackers and I guess it was gunshots because we heard people screaming, like ‘help us, help us!’” Cheryl Delcotto told CNN. “So, we ran around, I called 911, I couldn’t get a hold of anybody because I guess people were already calling.”

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

Authorities located the handgun and three empty magazines at the scene, the sheriff said.

Police respond to the scene of a shooting Saturday at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan. - WDIV
Police respond to the scene of a shooting Saturday at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan. - WDIV

Delcotto, who was visiting a home near the splash pad when the shooting began, described seeing blood-covered victims and people rendering aid.

“I see people laying on the ground, I seen a guy who was shot in the stomach who was sitting on a chair, an older man,” she said. Then she saw a man whose “son was coming out on a stretcher – with blood all over his face, and it was scary.”

Suspect found dead after police breached his home

After the shooting, police traced the weapon found at the scene to a nearby home, where they found a vehicle matching a description of the one that drove away from the scene of the shooting, according to the sheriff.

The suspect was not known to authorities until they did a “quick investigation” and determined who they believed was involved based on evidence from the scene of the shooting.

Police had containment on the home within 45 minutes to one hour, according to Bouchard. There was “an acknowledgment that we were there and we heard or saw him,” Bouchard said.

After making attempts to contact the suspect, law enforcement “breached the home and deployed drones to begin an examination of the home,” and located the deceased suspect, Bouchard said.

Police later found a handgun next to the deceased suspect inside the home. A drone that flew into the home while police surrounded it also found what appeared to be an “AR-platform” firearm on the kitchen table, Bouchard said.

“It wouldn’t surprise me – because having that on the kitchen table is not an everyday activity – that there was probably something else, a second chapter, potentially,” Bouchard said.

Police said the investigation is ongoing as they work to “determine if there’s either a digital or a paper trail that would give us some insight” and piece together a timeline of how the shooting unfolded. Whether or not the suspect posted any relevant information on social media or has anything on his devices will also be part of the investigation, officials said.

“It’s gonna be one of those challenges to try to figure out why there appears to be no connection between the victims and the location whatsoever. A person doesn’t live in Rochester Hills. He went to a Rochester Hills Park,” Bouchard said.

Authorities have also recovered video evidence from a nearby camera and are looking for bullet fragments, Bouchard said.

Suspect’s former bankruptcy attorney remembers him as ‘soft-spoken’

As the investigation continues and new details emerge about the suspect, an attorney who represented Nash in a 2011 bankruptcy case remembered him as a “soft-spoken” individual who suffered in the financial crash of 2007 to 2009.

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

Although Meeks is a licensed attorney, according to the state bar of Michigan, she told CNN she stopped practicing law in 2021 to become a consultant and leadership coach.

Nash was trying to run his own landscaping business, but after the financial crash, Meeks says it did not work out.

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

“And on top of that, he had medical bills to take care of,” Meeks said. “He was a young man down on his luck.”

Community was still reeling from Oxford shooting

Saturday’s incident was a “gut punch” to a community still reeling from a 2021 shooting at Oxford High School, just 15 miles north of Rochester Hills, Bouchard said.

“None of us in this room, in this community or in this country, anticipated going into Father’s Day weekend with this kind of tragedy – that families will be deeply affected by forever,” the sheriff said Saturday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement on X she is in contact with local officials following the shooting.

“I am heartbroken to learn about the shooting in Rochester Hills,” she wrote. “We are monitoring the situation as updates continue to come in, and are in touch with local officials.”

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

CNN’s Emma Tucker, Harlan Schmidt, Zoe Sottile, Arlette Saenz and Christina Zdanowicz contributed to this report.

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