What Happened and What’s Next After Mass Shooting Rattles Michigan State

Current and former Michigan State University students rally at the capitol in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Alexandria Verner, Brian Fraser and Arielle Anderson were killed and five other students remain remain in critical condition after a gunman opened fire on the campus of Michigan State University Monday night. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By Lisa Hayes, Isaac Constans, Hope O'Dell

February 15, 2023

This is an excerpt of The ‘Gander’s newsletter. It has been modified for the web. To sign up for more content like this, click here.

Today, we’re all Spartans.
As we collectively grapple with the mass shooting that happened this week at Michigan State University, we here at The ‘Gander are bringing you two things: (1) a skimmable rundown of the latest news, and (2) what you can do to help.

Lisa Hayes, managing editor, class of 2001
Isaac Constans, content producer, class of 2018
Hope O’Dell, reporter, class of 2022

People are seen inside the Broad Art Museum near Berkey Hall on the campus of Michigan State University as they shelter in place, late Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Timeline of Events

8:18 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13: 911 dispatchers began getting calls about a shooting from inside Berkey Hall, a red-brick building on the east end of MSU’s campus. Berkey is home to the College of Social Science and the Department of Sociology, and was holding evening classes at the time. “The shooter opened the back classroom door and started firing at my classmates in the back, wounding them,” Claire Papoulias, a sophomore, told CNN. “I smelled and saw the gunpowder. I thought I was going to die.”

Within minutes, officers arrived and found two students dead. As they tended to victims, they heard shots coming from the MSU Union

(Courtesy/Michigan State University)

8:31 p.m.: Dispatchers called units to the Union. “Any units on this channel, shooter is in the Union building. Currently in the Union building. Any LPD units on this channel. Shooter in the Union building.”

At about the same time, an alert was texted to students and staff, including the directive to “run, hide, fight.”

In the Union, officers found another student dead. Others were injured. The suspect fled through the north door of the building. Hundreds of officers from multiple police departments descended on campus to secure buildings.

Victims and injured survivors were taken to Sparrow Hospital. Meanwhile, MSU students and employees began receiving text updates, and the East Lansing community was instructed to shelter in place.

11:18 p.m.: Police released photos of the suspect from security footage and asked the public to help identify the shooter. A called-in tip led to officers finding the suspect off campus, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Who are the Victims?

Arielle Anderson: A sophomore who graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School and was known for volunteering with older adults. Anderson loved children and planned to be a pediatrician.

Brian Fraser: A sophomore also from Grosse Pointe, Fraser was president of MSU’s chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and was remembered as a “bright intellectual.”

Alexandria Verner: A junior from Clawson who had been an all-conference hooper in high school, who studied integrated biology and anthropology, and whose Twitter bio says she “Can’t stop dreaming.”

As of Tuesday morning, five more students remained in critical condition. Four required surgery.

MSU is Michigan’s largest university, with about 50,000 students on campus. At least one had been a student at Oxford High School during its own mass shooting in November 2021. Others involved had also been students at out-of-state schools that had experienced similar mass shootings.

Workers clean up outside Berkey Hall at Michigan State University, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich. Police say the gunman who killed himself hours after fatally shooting three students at Michigan State University was 43-year-old Anthony McRae. Police also say five people who are in critical condition Tuesday are also students. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

What do we Know About the Shooter?

A call to the police tip-line led officers to Lansing resident Anthony Dwayne McRae, 43, who killed himself at an off-campus location. A neighbor described watching out her window as “cop car after cop car after cop car” rolled past with lights and sirens off.

Police said McRae had mental health issues and a 2019 felony weapons charge for carrying a loaded firearm without a permit. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and was therefore still allowed to legally own a gun in Michigan.

A motive for the killings is still not known. When found, McRae had a note in his pocket threatening violence at two schools in Ewing Township, New Jersey—where McRae had some ties in the area.

How’s Campus Now?

When ‘Gander reporter Hope O’Dell drove past campus on Tuesday afternoon, police presence had decreased. Two police cars still blocked the Abbott Road entrance into the university, and blockades kept cars from going in other campus entrances along Grand River Avenue. Streets were packed with traffic, but sidewalks were largely empty save for a few pairs of students leaving campus and walking along Grand River. News teams had set up lights and cameras along the main drag, and some were interviewing students with Michigan State’s campus in the background.

Flowers had been lain at the foot of the Sparty Statue. The university’s rock—a boulder that serves as a sort of bulletin board for many university messages—had been painted in black and red, with the words “HOW MANY MORE?” It has since been painted to various other messages.

All classes and events have been canceled through Feb. 20. Private counseling is being provided for students and employees, and additional support has been set up for community members and student families. Find information here.

Multiple memorial services and vigils have been scheduled throughout the week. Details may be found here.

READ MORE: 18 Resources Available After the Shooting at Michigan State University

By the Numbers

Since 1966, there have been 12 shootings where three or more people were killed on college campuses.

This was the first to be recorded in Michigan.  

Since the Oxford High School shooting that claimed four lives in November 2021, eight more shootings have taken place at K-12 schools in Michigan. Nationally, 11% of mass shootings from 2009-2020 took place on school grounds, according to Everytown, a national gun violence prevention organization.

After the shooting at Oxford High School, Democrats in the Michigan Legislature proposed multiple gun control measures—including safe storage laws, universal background check requirements on all gun sales, allowing local governments to ban guns on property they own or lease, and banning the sale or possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition with some exception. 

What they would do:

  • Safe storage laws: Require gun owners to safely store their firearms.
  • Red-flag laws: Permit judges to issue an order to temporarily seize the guns belonging to someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.
  • Universal background checks: Close a loophole that allows guns to be purchased without a background check from unlicensed dealers, such as from individuals or at a gun show.

Legislative Republicans, who were in the majority up until 2023, blocked all of these measures from being passed or receiving a hearing.

What’s the Response?

The Michigan Legislature canceled all meetings Tuesday, but lawmakers promised that there will be changes. Wednesday, the Michigan House passed a resolution in recognition of first responders and the MSU students who lost their lives.

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, whose daughter attends MSU, told reporters: “We will be introducing common-sense legislation and we are prepared to get the job done.”

House Speaker Joe Tate echoed that sentiment: “We can continue to debate the reasons for gun violence in America, or we can act.” 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has indicated she’s in favor of stricter gun safety laws—including safe storage, red flag laws, and universal background checks.

“We cannot keep living like this,” Whitmer said during a news briefing Tuesday morning. “As parents, we tell our kids it’s going to be ok. We say that all the time. But the truth is words are not good enough. We must act and we will.”

President Joe Biden also commented on the shooting, saying: “We have to do something to stop gun violence ripping apart our communities.”

Michigan schools, in the meantime, have stepped up security. On Monday night, Wayne State University contacted students to alert them that there would be increased security on campus.

Looking for a Way to Help?

Here are seven:

  1. The Support Our Spartans Fund assists students with basic needs like rent, removing food insecurity, and other essential expenses during times of crisis. Click here to learn more.
  2. Donate to the student-run, independent newspaper, The State News, which takes no money from the university. It’s one of the last independent, non-profit, student-run media outlets in the country. Their coverage of the shooting has been a lifeline for many on campus. Click here.
  3. Give blood. Michigan’s blood banks are always in need—especially during a mass shooting. Click here to find one near you.
  4. Lift up the helpers. MSU Police & Public Safety responded quickly, skillfully, and with transparency all evening and into the morning. The 9-1-1 dispatcher working last night deserves every good thing.
  5. Watch for victims’ GoFundMe drives. Here is one currently being circulated for a wounded student. Note: The ‘Gander has not independently verified the source of this fundraiser.
  6. Attend a vigil or a protest.
  7. Support or follow the lead of the people supporting Spartans. See a few below, or search #SpartansWill on Twitter.

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