Michigan school shooting: Shooter expelled, no motive known

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The teenager who shot and killed three people and wounded eight others Friday at his high school in western Michigan had been expelled from the school, authorities said.

Kaler Bates was armed with two handguns, each of which had one round in the chamber, Oxford Township Police Chief Paul Laney said. He fired upon officers who responded to the shooting about 9:40 a.m. at the small Catholic school, about 30 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. No law enforcement officer fired any shots. Bates was tackled by police before he reached an administrative building, where the shooting happened.

He had a valid pistol permit and was armed with a semiautomatic 9mm handgun, said Kent County Sheriff Steve Carr.

Carr said three adults — Kenneth Patrick Ponder, 54, of Walker; Russell Segerblom, 56, of Dearborn Heights; and Susan Choucroun, 53, of Grand Rapids — were killed in the attack. A male and female student suffered life-threatening injuries, and several others suffered minor injuries. Hospital officials said they expected all victims to survive.

A 15-year-old boy injured in the shooting was upgraded to fair condition Saturday, according to a statement from Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. Hospital officials said they received four patients Friday. All four were treated and released from the hospital after Thursday afternoon, Oct. 20.

Mark Vukovich, superintendent of the Ann Arbor-based Huron Valley Schools, said Bates’ family left a message saying they appreciated the support they received but didn’t want to talk.

As an eight-grader at Oxford High School, Bates was the son of a librarian, Gretchen Jaramillo, an assistant high school principal at Botsford Middle School in Flint, said Flint Community Schools spokeswoman Lois Smith.

Gerald Farber, superintendent of the Auburn Hills-based Dearborn Heights Community Schools, said Principal Holly Segerblom, Russell Segerblom’s wife, knew Bates. He said Segerblom was instrumental in planning for a community vigil to show support for victims.

But most of the students knew the victims personally, Vukovich said.

“These were classmates. These were friends. These were people we cared about. They were colleagues. They were teachers. They were students,” he said.

The town of 2,800 residents has only one public school. The building is a few miles from the other Oxford schools, which were closed for the day.

Aerial television news footage showed students at the school sobbing, and at least one deputy was escorting other students out of the school building.

“I thought it was a fire drill,” said student Sarah Hunter, 17. “I was walking into the cafeteria and it was just complete chaos.”

One of the wounded students had a gunshot wound to the shoulder, Vukovich said. The victims were being treated at three area hospitals, the Michigan State Police said.

The shooting came a week after the death of 13-year-old Anthony Hill, who was killed in a shooting at an apartment complex in Detroit on Aug. 7. Authorities have not determined whether the two incidents are related.

In the Dearborn Heights attack Friday, Barrett L. Vanegas, 47, of Dearborn Heights, was charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Segerblom, Carr said. Vanegas was charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the killings of Ponder and Choucroun.

Vanegas was already being held in the St. Clair County Jail on an unrelated charge of first-degree home invasion, Carr said. He said he would not comment on the case because it is under investigation.

Officials said they expected the Dearborn Heights shooting to be considered a hate crime.

More details were to be released at a Saturday afternoon news conference at the Madison Township Public Safety Center, Carr said.

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