GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Officials say they believe there could be as many as five shooters involved in Thursday night’s shooting outside a graduation ceremony that had just wrapped up at East Kentwood High School.
Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young hosted a press conference Friday morning to provide updates on the shooting.
WATCH THE FULL PRESS CONFERENCE:
She says one of the suspect vehicles was found abandoned behind a business in the 6100 block of Kalamazoo Avenue. Another suspect vehicle was found in the city of Grand Rapids and has been turned over to the sheriff's office. The suspects are still at large.
Michael Martin breaks down everything else we learned at Friday’s press conference in this video:
Sheriff LaJoye-Young says the shooting happened Thursday about half an hour after the Crossroads Alternative High School graduation ceremony. According to the sheriff, there were about 400 people at the ceremony.
According to LaJoye-Young, a group of suspects pulled up in a white Hyundai sedan and started shooting out of the vehicle. The sheriff says as the Hyundai sped away, another group in attendance at the ceremony started shooting back at the fleeing car. That group then took off in a white Mercedes sedan. The sheriff says it appears the group of suspects may be known to each other.
The Hyundai turned out to be a stolen vehicle and detectives found bullet holes in it.
Sheriff LaJoye-Young says two people got shot during the exchange.
She says one is a 40-year-old woman from Grand Rapids who was shot in the abdomen and wrist. The other is a 16-year-old boy from Texas who was shot in the wrist.
"My suspicion is that they are just completely bystanders that happened to be here at the time of this gun exchange," said LaJoye-Young.
The sheriff says investigators are reviewing school security videos that captured at least a portion of the incident.
While the shooting took place in the parking lot, a middle school choir concert was being held in a nearby auditorium.
In a news release, the department stated, "This is a brazen act as many community members could have been easily caught up in the senseless violence. Police were already on scene for the event & additional resources were on scene within 1 minute. This appears to be a targeted shooting and no additional threats towards students or staff have been found."
Friday afternoon, Kentwood Public Schools sent out an update on the district’s response to the shooting.
Superintendent Kevin Polston says additional crisis team members will be available to students at school on Monday.
According to Polston, all activities will run as scheduled with additional precautionary safety measures including, but not limited to, increased police and school safety personnel presence for the remainder of the school year.
The superintendent reiterated that there is no active threat to the school and the shooting is believed to be an isolated incident.
“We would ask if you, or any family members or friends, witnessed the events and have not spoken to the police, if you have photographs or videos of the incident, or if anyone has information related to this event, to contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 616.632.6100,” Polston wrote in his update to the district. “We are thankful for the support of our community and first responders. The strength of the Kentwood community is our ability to rally in support of each other during times of need. We will get through this together. We will continue to communicate with our school community as important information becomes available.”
If you have any information about the Thursday evening's shootings, contact the Kent County Sheriff's Office at (616) 632-6100.
You can also submit tips anonymously to Silent Observer, onlineor by phone, along with texting tips to "OK2SAY."