The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Everyone thought the 14-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich., shooting victim had died. Then she squeezed her mom’s hand.

The undersheriff of Kalamazoo county in Michigan says police have yet to find a motive behind a gunman's apparently random shootings that killed six people. (Video: Reuters)

The teenager’s body was limp amid the tangle of wires and tubes that were keeping her internal organs alive until they could be harvested.

The 14-year-old girl wouldn’t need them. A bullet fired during a bloody shooting rampage across Kalamazoo, Mich., Saturday night had struck her as she sat in a car in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel.

She was the seventh person to die in the attack, police said. Headlines were updated to reflect the new death toll; shoulders sank even lower at the loss of one more life.

At Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, the girl’s body was being prepared for the surgery that would remove her organs, Michigan Live reported. The girl’s mother stood at her daughter’s side for what seemed like the last time.

Then she felt her daughter squeeze her hand.

“The only word to describe it is ‘wow,'” Michigan State Police First Lt. Dale Hinz told Michigan Live.

The young victim, who has not been named, went into surgery Sunday morning and is still in critical condition, officials said.

After meeting with the girl’s parents Sunday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said the teenager is “working hard to stay alive.”

“She’s got all our thoughts and prayers to have a chance to come back,” he told reporters. “So it’s going to be quite a recovery period.”

According to local reports, the girl had stopped at Cracker Barrel with a group of family friends after seeing a show at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium. All four of the women she was with — Mary Lou Nye, 63, of Baroda, Mich., and Mary Jo Nye, 60; Dorothy Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, all of Battle Creek — were killed when police said Jason Brian Dalton fired on their cars.

Two others were killed during the apparently random shooting spree: father and son Richard Smith, 53, and Tyler Smith, 17, both of Kalamazoo. The younger Smith was a high school senior.

Authorities said they are still searching for a motive that might explain why Dalton — who was arrested hours after the final assault — fired on the people. The 45-year-old had no apparent connection with any of his victims.

“This is your worst nightmare, where you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people,” Paul Matyas, under­sheriff of Kalamazoo County, told a local television station.

An eighth victim remains hospitalized with severe injuries, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said. The woman, a mother of three who was the first person shot during the hours-long spree, is expected to survive.

The outlook for the 14-year-old is less certain. Getting told reporters Sunday that the girl is “seriously, gravely injured.”

But officials are optimistic. After all, the fact that she is even alive is a miracle, Hinz told Michigan Live. They will keep on hoping for another.