(NewsNation Now) — Two days after police say a 15-year-old killed four classmates and injured seven other people at a Michigan high school, the local sheriff said viewing the security camera and cellphone footage of the frantic moments is among the most difficult things he’s done in his career.
“It’s horrific. It’s bone-chilling … The panic and what was felt by the students and the teachers in that building as it was playing out was terrible,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said on “NewsNation Prime” on Thursday. “And what I saw on the video was chilling, even to somebody that’s been in this business as long as I have.”
Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17 died during the rampage at Oxford High School. The suspected shooter was arrested unharmed and is being tried as an adult for their deaths. His parents may also face charges.
However, Bouchard said his spirits were buoyed somewhat because he saw the school staff had implemented some of the training his office gave them.
“The doors were barricaded. A number of doors and windows were shot from the hall, but never breached.”
Bouchard said that effectively kept the accused shooter in the hallway and out of classrooms. A classroom is a difficult environment to escape a shooter, providing fewer places to escape.
“The training clearly saved lives,” he said. He also praised the responding officers for going in toward the threat and subduing the shooter within two minutes: “Every second is potentially another life.
The shooter was in meetings with school administrators and his parents the day before and the morning of the shooting. Bouchard said he was “never on anyone’s radar” before the shooting.
The school system, already facing the daunting task of resuming classes, is at least partially setback by an apparent influx of threats to the school on social media. Bouchard said most of them are not credible, but each one that pops up needs to be cleared.
“We’re asking people don’t just repost and share things that are not sent to the police for verification,” he said.
Some threats date back to 2018. Some turn out to be unrelated incidents from other states that people misinterpret to be about Oxford High School.
Bouchard vowed to prosecute anyone he catches inventing threats to the school.
“We’re going to track down those people and we’re going to ask for the most serious charge we can,” he said. “Because it’s really upsetting to parents in the community, in addition to withdrawing a great deal of resources that we really need to be focused on the actual tragedy.”
Schools are closed until Monday at the earliest because Bouchard’s deputies are “behind” on processing the threats.
“We want to make sure that they’re all cleared before we move forward,” he said.
When schools do reopen, deputies will have a firmer presence, at least in the first days as students return after the tragedy.
In the meantime, four families are facing the unthinkable reality of planning funerals for their teenage children. Seven other victims are recovering from gunshot wounds at home or in the hospital. Bouchard told NewsNation his office has received “a host” of calls offering to help families with funerals, food and other services.
“Every time you see a terrible tragedy, the worst in humanity, usually the best of humanity rises up and shows its colors and tries to help and pour out love and support,” Bouchard said. “And that’s what we’re seeing in Oxford.”