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Kalamazoo mayor calls for hope, mental health support after Kalamazoo bus shooting

A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety vehicle blocks off an area of the Kalamazoo Transportation Center on Nov. 27, 2021 (WWMT/Jon McCrary)
A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety vehicle blocks off an area of the Kalamazoo Transportation Center on Nov. 27, 2021 (WWMT/Jon McCrary)
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The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Michigan State Police held a joint press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. regarding the Kalamazoo bus shooting.

Public Safety Chief Vernon Coakley opened by offering his condolences to the family of the suspect, 54-year-old Anthony Oliver. Coakley then thanked first responders for their work during the incident.

Lt. Shane Krieger of the Michigan State Police then recapped the events of the morning.

He said Kalamazoo Central Dispatch started getting calls about Oliver at 9:11 a.m. Within two minutes, police had arrived at the scene.

Police found Oliver, exchanged gunfire, and shot him. They rendered first aid immediately and Oliver was taken to a local hospital, where he died, Krieger said.

Investigators had not yet established a motive, although Krieger said a it was reported in 2018 that Oliver had threatened suicide by police. At that time, Oliver had been taken to a mental hospital and evaluated.

The investigation is set to continue in the next few weeks, after which the case will be turned over to the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office.

Krieger said detectives had spoken with many witnesses, but there were people at the transportation center that day who hadn't been identified as of Wednesday. Krieger urged any witnesses who had not spoken with investigators to call them at 844-642-8384 or email

During the update, police showed an edited video compilation of security footage from the incident.

After the video, Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson took the podium to address the community.

"This is not something that happened to somebody else. This is something that happened to us. Look around this room. Is this good for anybody?" Anderson said, on the verge of tears. "As a community, this is not good for us. So what do we need to do about it? I believe there's a couple things."

Anderson called for destigmatizing the need for mental health support.

"There is nothing wrong with encouraging a family member or a friend to say, 'Hey, I think you need some help,'" Anderson said.

He encouraged everyone involved with the shooting to seek mental health services to deal with trauma from the event.

On a grander scale, Anderson called for the community to think in terms of hope, rather than nihilism.

"We together have to be beacons of that hope for each other so that people don't feel like, 'This is all that's in front of me, this is the only choice I have," he said. "If we don't individually take responsibility, we will not change the trajectory."

Officers involved with the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, as is standard procedure during an investigation like this one, Krieger said.

Original story: Shock and terror rang through the Kalamazoo Transportation Center Saturday morning. Investigators said Oliver boarded a bus, opened fire and injured three passengers.

Police said although they rendered aid to the suspect, he was taken to the hospital, and later died.

Phillip Bennett was one of the victims Saturday and recalled the chilling experience.

“He was already at my head with the gun, pop, pop, pop," Bennett said. "That’s when I came around, hit the gun and hit his arm trying to get away.”

Bennett was shot twice, in the neck and arm. He doesn't know why he was shot at.

“The only thing I could think of is to get his gun or fight him or save my life, so I kept on running to the Gull Road bus as fast as I could. While I was running, he shot at me four more times, bam, bam, bam," he said.

The family of Oliver said he was seeking help for his mental health issues.

Theo Morton, his nephew, said he had just taken him to the doctor.

"I just give him a ride to the doctor last week where he was going to a get refill on his medication," Morton wrote in a Facebook message to News Channel 3. "I’m just sad the last time [I] seen him when I drop him off at the doctor office and told him I love him and now he’s gone. I do feel sorry for the people involved in this situation. I’m praying for their family also."

Morton added, "He never hurt anyone in life. I just want people to know he wasn’t a bad man. He just needed a little more love and directions with his illnesses he was deal with."

After the shooting on Saturday, passengers and Metro Transit Employees have asked more security measures at the transportation center.

"Our drivers were heroic that day," Metro Executive Director Sean McBride said.

According to Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety crime data, from Aug. 22 to Nov. 29, there have been 25 crimes reported at or near the Kalamazoo Transportation Center, including 11 assault, eight thefts and two robberies.

Metro partnered with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office in February 2020 to have a stronger police presence at the station, but the partnership ended in October 2021 because the positions couldn't be staffed.

KDPS Chief Vernon Coakley was on the scene Saturday morning.

“It’s not one person’s job, it’s not one of our organizations job, it’s us and our community to work toward ending gun violence,” Coakley said. “It’s not when but where and we have to speak up, we have to talk about this situation in our homes, in our businesses, in our community.”

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest information from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Michigan State Police.

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