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'This rocked us.' Two vigils held for victims of Rochester Hills shooting

Posted at 8:52 AM, Jun 17, 2024

(WXYZ) — Across Oakland County, the sound of resilience as families gathered in prayer, showing strength in the midst of tragedy.

In Rochester Hills, neighbors came together at Reuther Middle School across the street from the shooting scene.

They gathered roughly 24 hours since being locked down in their homes when a gunman randomly opened fire at a splash pad, shooting 9 people including children.

"This rocked us. This rocked everybody,” said Rochester Hills resident Kerri Beckwith.

The splash pad is a gathering place for the Brooklands neighborhood, which is where Beckwith grew up and still lives today.

"We're tough, we're so tough. We're family, and we all care for each other," Beckwith said. "We've been around forever, we’re a different part of the city.”

VIDEO: What we know about the Rochester Hills splash pad shooting that left 9 injured

What we know about the Rochester Hills splash pad shooting that left 9 injured

Many of those neighbors walked to the vigil, leaving notes of encouragement for the victims, first responders and everyone affected.

"It was so terrifying," said Brooklands resident Ashley Heck, who says her son was at the splash pad just a few hours before the shooting. "I was just so glad to have him home in my arms."

Heck had also been across the street getting ice cream roughly 10 minutes before the shots rang out. Her son, who was outside on his scooter, ran inside to tell her what happened.

VIDEO: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard joins 7 News Detroit to talk about the Rochester Hills splash pad shooting:

Sheriff Bouchard joins 7 News Detroit to discuss mass shooting at Rochester Hills splashpad

"Getting home to my kids yesterday was, just, you can't take any day for granted,” said Heck.

Nearby at Woodside Bible Church in Troy there was an hour long prayer service at 5:00pm, sending a message of hope.

“Moments like this are very important to say 'we’re going to forge ahead,'" said Senior Pastor Christopher W. Brooks. "We're not going to allow yesterday’s tragedy to define us.”

Brooks says he and his family visit that same splash pad. It's a place church members Christopher Stockman and his wife Rachel West- Stockman planned to one day take their own child. Rachel is 29 weeks pregnant, and the couple lives in the Brooklands neighborhood.

"It's a great little area, it's unfortunate the reason it's all over the news is because of this," Chistopher said. “Any other day that could've been us walking by there, it hit really close to home this time."

With victims still in the hospital, the immediate focus is on their healing, while providing healing to a community, vowing not let tragedy define its future.

"We had dreams of taking our kid to the splash pad and downtown and everything like that, and as kind of like what Mike Bouchard said yesterday, life goes on. We keep living," said Rachel. "I want to embrace that, and that splash pad isn’t going to be defined by that, and our kid is going to get to know joy there.”

"We're a tight nit community, we're family," said Beckwith. "We'll get past this and we'll get stronger."