4 shot outside Muskegon Heights High School

The scene after shots were fired at Muskegon Heights High School. (Feb. 9, 2016)

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — Four people were shot outside Muskegon Heights High School on Tuesday night, one of them by a sheriff’s deputy who opened fire on an apparent shooter, police say.

Interim Muskegon Heights Police Chief Dr. Joseph E. Thomas, Jr. said that two females and two males were shot.

Wednesday, Muskegon Height Public School Academy System said Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross said a fifth person was injured in the incident, but 24 Hour News 8 did not have any indication that person was shot. Zachery-Ross also said two of the people wounded were Muskegon Heights High School students.

Everyone who was hurt was taken to an area hospital and has since been released.

Thomas said the suspected shooter is a man from the Grand Rapids area, and that police believe he was the sole shooter. The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office told 24 Hour News 8 they expect a warrant to be issued sometime Wednesday afternoon, although it remains a “very active investigation.”

Police are trying to find three other men who were with the alleged shooter at one point in the evening.

The scene after shots were fired at Muskegon Heights High School. (Feb. 9, 2016)
(The scene following the shooting.)

The shooting appears to have stemmed from a dispute that started last week in Grand Rapids, Thomas said. He said police received information that some people involved in that dispute would be at the Tuesday evening boys basketball game between Muskegon Heights Academy and Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills to “finish this off.”

The Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office and Muskegon Heights Police Department sent officers to the game to keep the unwanted individuals out.

Those people were kept out of the game, at which point they went to the nearby football field and shots were fired.

Thomas said a sheriff’s deputy came upon a suspect and ordered him to drop his weapon.

“This person turned and drew his weapon on the sheriff’s department deputy. Bad mistake, OK,” he said. “And the deputy did what he was trained to do. He defended himself and the public,” shooting the suspect.

Everyone who was shot was taken to Mercy Health Hackley Campus, which was then locked down — a common security measure. The lockdown has since been lifted. A dozen police officers or more responded to the hospital.

“We want to send a very, very strong message to the people: This is how fast we can unite, folks,” Thomas said. “We’re not going to tolerate the things we’ve been dealing with before.”

“We tried to talk to the individuals, and they decided to start some unwanted activity. And when you do that, folks — I don’t mean to be mean and nasty — but we’re going to finish it for you. This is the way it’s going to be. You’re not going to take over this area. You’re not going to take over this county. We are going to stop you by any means necessary,” he continued, also praising the deputy who opened fire on the suspect. “What happened tonight is on the people that live in this area that got a high tolerance for violence. When they change their behavior, then the people will change their behavior. If not, this could be the results. We don’t want it this way. We tried to prevent it. And it was unfortunate.”

Watch the chief’s press conference below. App users can click here to watch.

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System canceled classes at all buildings on Wednesday. Counselors were available at the high school from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and throughout the rest of the week as needed, Superintendent Zachery-Ross said in a statement.

“We are sickened by the acts of violence that occurred outside of our school building last night. We are saddened that two of our own high school students were injured. However, we do not know what their current condition is. We will do everything we can to assist these students and their families,” she said.

The shots were fired following the basketball game. A spokesman for Grand Rapids Public Schools said the district does not believe any of its students were involved in the incident.

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