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Authorities detain 5 in probe of Kent Co. high school graduation shooting


Authorities have detained five people in connection with a Thursday night shooting that wounded two people in a high school parking lot amid a graduation ceremony in Kent County.

The Kent County Sheriff's Office said its detectives, with help from state and local police, detained the group after a traffic stop in Livonia around 4 p.m. Friday.

"It is believed that two of the individuals detained were involved with the shooting incident at East Kentwood," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "There is possibly a third individual as well, but we are awaiting further investigation by detectives on scene."

Authorities recovered multiple firearms in the vehicle. Two of the five detained were identified as 18-year-old men from Grand Rapids, according to the update.

"KCSO detectives have been working the case non-stop and are combing through footage provided by the school and are developing leads," investigators wrote. "The KCSO believes that there are still outstanding suspects and continues to encourage the community to send in any information they may have."

Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said earlier Friday that the two people struck by gunfire continue to recover after a group in a car fired shots at people gathered at the graduation for Crossroads Alternative High School students at East Kentwood High School. 

Some people at the ceremony fired back at those in the car before fleeing to their own vehicle.

Detectives are reviewing footage captured by security cameras in the area. One person was hanging out the car's door window as he fired a gun, the sheriff said Friday.

One victim, a 40-year-old Grand Rapids woman, is listed in critical, but stable condition after undergoing surgery, the sheriff said.

"She had a significant injury," she said. "She was shot in the abdomen. She underwent surgery yesterday and she's stable."

The other victim, a 16-year-old boy from Texas, was released from the hospital, she said. On Thursday, LaJoye-Young said the teen was shot in the wrist and that the two victims are not related.

Both victims were taken to a hospital, but not by medics, according to the sheriff.

On Friday, LaJoye-Young said the two vehicles involved, a white Hyundai and a white Mercedes-Benz, have both been found by police.

She said police found the Hyundai abandoned and still running behind a business in the 6100 block of Kalamazoo Avenue. The car has bullet holes in it and was reported stolen from the city of Kentwood. The sheriff's office was gathering evidence from the vehicle.

She said detectives believe the car may have been stolen in a rash of vehicle thefts in the area.

LaJoye-Young said the Mercedes was found overnight in Grand Rapids. East Kentwood High School is in Gaines Township, a suburb of Grand Rapids.

According to a preliminary investigation, a group of suspects arrived at the school in the Hyundai just before 7:30 p.m. and fired shots from the vehicle. 

As the Hyundai sped away, another group of people who were at the school returned fire. That group then fled in the Mercedes.

Investigators said they believe the two groups know each other and one was targeting the other. It's unclear how many rounds were fired, but the sheriff said police found several types of shell casings from automatic weapons. Detectives saw on video that at least one of the weapons used in the gunfight had an extended magazine, she also said. 

"There was a complete disregard for the safety of individuals who are unrelated to this,"  LaJoye-Young said.

She also said her office has received no reports of anyone else being injured in the shooting.

School officials said 60 students were at the graduation ceremony, along with families and friends. There was also a middle school concert in the school's auditorium at the same time. According to a school calendar, there were also several athletic events scheduled.

The sheriff said her investigators estimate there were about 400 people at the school at the time of the shooting.

A high school in Louisiana also reported a shooting during graduation ceremonies Thursday night. Graduates were leaving the Hammond High School ceremony at Southeastern Louisiana University when shots were fired into the crowd; at least four people were injured, and a person was arrested.

Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed