Current OU students and Oxford High School alumni share thoughts on tragic shooting


Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

Governor Gretchen Whitmer paying her respects and honoring the victims at a memorial outside Oxford High School.

On Nov. 30, a 15-year-old student allegedly opened fire at Oxford High School (OHS), killing four fellow students and injuring six others as well as a teacher.

Oakland University is the nearest public university to OHS, with many students, staff and faculty being connected to both communities. Andrew Romano, student body president and OHS graduate, penned a letter to the university community on the day of the shooting to acknowledge this connection and the people affected.

“Unfortunately, some in our community are hurting today, and for many of us, this is the first time we have been faced with this chilling reality. The unimaginable devastation caused today will not soon be forgotten,” Romano wrote.

Romano, who still lives in the Oxford area, has friends and family that are currently students at OHS.

He first heard something was going at the high school when his mother, who was with him at the time, got an emergency text from the district because she is a parent of a child who attends school in the district.

“Getting that news was gut-wrenching…it was surreal,” Romano said. “They didn’t even say if there was a shooter or what had been going on, so then I checked my messages, and I started seeing messages from friends. One of the first messages I got was from somebody that was near [the shooting] and had run out of the building. Hearing that from a friend and that there was a shooter, it was a lot.”

Mackenzie Nichols, junior, OHS alumna and former assistant OHS ski coach, described her account of when her sister, an OHS senior, told her there was a gunman in the building.

“At 12:52 my sister texted our family group chat, both of my parents were at work, ‘I love you guys so much’…‘Someone has a gun.’ I called my parents at work and both rushed to Oxford,” Nichols said.

On the day of the shooting, Nichols’ sister didn’t follow her usual after-lunch routine, which typically involves visiting a friend at a location near a school bathroom, but instead went straight to class. According to Nichols, the alleged shooter pulled on the classroom door, which is only two doors down from the bathroom where a part of the shooting took place, based on multiple accounts.

Nichols expressed gratitude for Cam, a student who “likely saved the lives of everyone in that classroom,” by slamming the door, putting the night lock in place, and stacking desks as a barrier as well as for whatever the reason may have been that her sister decided to go straight to class instead.

“I am forever grateful for her guardian angel that told her to go to class, or for her lack of sleep due to her studies because it told her she needed to go to class,” Nichols emphasized.

Like many of the students, staff, and faculty of OHS, Nichols’ sister is experiencing both the anxiety and fear generated by such a heinous act compounded by the grief of losing friends and loved ones.

“My sister has survivor’s remorse. She questions why it was her friends and not her — she was close with Riley, Kylie and Justin [victims of the shooting]. She questions why she went to class and didn’t follow her usual after lunch routine. She questions why such beautiful humans were taken from this earth,” Nichols said.

People from across the metro-Detroit area have been holding vigils and raising funds to cover medical expenses and for the much-needed items that students might have left in the school in an act of solidarity and support for Oxford.

“The Oxford community will never be the same. We lost beautiful individuals — heroes — that made this world a better place. Over time, we will slowly, very slowly start to heal, but we will never ever forget,” Nichols said. “For those of the [Oxford] community, please live your lives in a way that will make those that we have lost unbelievably proud. Be there for your family, your friends, or for any individual that may need you.”