Sheriff: After responding to Oxford High shooting, deputies 'struggling,' finding help

Sheriff Michael Bouchard is reminding deputies that it's OK to ask for help as they process this traumatic incident


By Lily Altavena
Detroit Free Press

OXFORD, Mich. — 18.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard keeps reminding deputies: The shooter charged with killing four of his Oxford High classmates still had 18 unused rounds before deputies intercepted him.

An Oakland County Sheriff's deputy hugs a student's family members in the parking lot of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school, killing several students and wounding multiple others.
An Oakland County Sheriff's deputy hugs a student's family members in the parking lot of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school, killing several students and wounding multiple others. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The gravity of what first responders witnessed has set in for them, Bouchard said in a news conference over the weekend.

"There could have been 18 more kids," he said. "That's difficult to take in, so they're struggling in a big way."

Trauma caused on the job can affect first responders in critical ways. On Tuesday, law enforcement officers and other responders witnessed the chaos and tragedy of a school shooting up close as they ushered distraught students to safety.

While they ran toward the shooter to stop him, they faced heart-wrenching decisions, Bouchard said: Namely, they had to pass suffering children.

"That's an incredibly unnatural act to walk past a child that's in panic, terror and may even be hurt," in order to neutralize the shooter, he said. "To ignore that because you hear chaos or gunshots ... that's what they did."

Bouchard on Saturday said his office has debriefed with every officer on the scene, stressing to them that it's OK to ask for help. The sheriff's office also flew in specialists to meet with deputies to help process what they may have witnessed.

"Their No. 1 job is to make themselves come out of this process in a healthy way," he said. "They'll never be the same."

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