Oxford vigil punctuated by panic after attendee faints

December 04, 2021, 8:20 AM

Oxford candlelight vigil on Friday night. (Photo: Rebecca Cook)

A vigil in downtown Oxford to pay tribute to four high school students slain in this week's mass shooting gave way to further panic when someone reportedly fainted in the crowd, prompting cries for help. 

Video posted to Twitter by a WDIV reporter shows dozens of people screaming and running from the gathering of thousands.

The incident was quickly defused -- partly by reassurances from Sheriff Mike Bouchard and County Executive Dave Coulter -- and the event aimed to help heal a community rocked by tragedy carried on, media outlets reported

The Detroit News had this dispatch: 

Some who attended Friday's vigil saw it as one step in a long process for recovery.

"How do you heal a broken heart? How do you get that feeling of heaviness and darkness out from over your heart?" said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, whose district includes northern Oakland County. "The answer is all around us."

Amid Christmas lights and a wintry chill enveloping the brick storefronts, she and others repeatedly stressed the importance of unifying to heal, pointing to the many vigils, fundraisers and kind acts shared throughout four trying days.

Public officials on hand encouraged the community to find strength in the unity that has followed the attacks, the Free Press reported.

"We've lived through one of the worst weeks in Michigan history. But this week, we've also seen some of the best in one another," (Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) said. "We've seen the best in our kids, who are stronger than we could have ever imagined. We've seen the best in our teachers, who acted quickly and saved lives. We saw the best in our Meijer employees, who helped reunite families. We saw the best in the doctors and the nurses and the faith leaders who've helped us get through this tough, horrific moment. We saw the best in our first responders who got there so quick. And the best in Michiganders everywhere, who have donated money to help the community because they don't know how else they can help, but they are showing love with their action."

The loss of the community children and the harm done to their other classmates that day will be remembered, Oakland County Executive David Coulter told the crowd. But so will Friday night, with the community members packed in.

"It may seem impossible now on this night of unspeakable pain that anything like joy can be in our future but I have faith that there's a peace that comes despite our limited understanding," he told the crowd, after quoting scripture.

(Photo: Rebecca Cook)

Ahead of the downtown gathering, hundreds reportedly gathered beneath a glass-enclosed walkway at the local hospital, waiting for the body of victim Justin Shilling to be wheeled across for organ donation. The Daily Beast was there:

The crowd gathered for nearly an hour in almost complete silence. Hugs were exchanged. Sniffles could be heard. But the atmosphere was still and keenly focused on the third floor tunnel of the hospital.

At various points members of the Shilling party would walk to the window and wave. And the crowd, silently, would wave back.

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