Police seeking motive of gunman in deadly Michigan State shooting
The 43-year-old gunman who killed three students and wounded five others at Michigan State University had no apparent connection to the campus, police said Tuesday as they searched for a motive for shootings that terrified the community for hours.
Investigators were sorting out why Anthony McRae fired inside an academic building and the student union just before 8:30 p.m. Monday. An hourslong lockdown at the campus in East Lansing ended when he killed himself miles away while being confronted by police.
The shooting happened the day before the fifth anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that killed 17 and is the latest in what has become a deadly new year in the U.S.
“We have to do something to stop the gun violence that’s ripping apart our communities,” President Joe Biden said in a speech Tuesday, mentioning Michigan State.
Meanwhile, a school district in Ewing Township, New Jersey, closed for the day after investigators said that McRae, who lived in the area years ago, had a note in his pocket indicating a threat to schools there. But it was determined there was no credible threat, local police said later in a statement shared by the superintendent.
The dead and injured in the gunfire at Berkey Hall and the MSU Union, a popular place to eat and study, were all Michigan State students. Five remained in critical condition at Sparrow Hospital, said Dr. Denny Martin, who fought back tears during a news conference Tuesday.
“We have absolutely no idea what the motive was,” said Chris Rozman, deputy chief of campus police, adding that McRae, 43, of Lansing, was not a student or Michigan State employee.
“This is still fluid,” Rozman said. “There are still crime scenes that are being processed, and we still are in the process of putting together the pieces to try to understand what happened.”
The dead were all from the Detroit area. Two gradated from separate high schools in the Grosse Pointe district: Brian Fraser, president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and Arielle Anderson. Alexandria Verner, a graduate of Clawson High School in another Detrot suburb, also died.
“If you knew her, you loved her and we will forever remember the lasting impact she has had on all of us,” Clawson Superintendent Billy Shellenbarger said in an email to families.
The shootings took place in an area of older, stately buildings on the northern edge of the Michigan State campus, one of the nation’s largest at 5,200 acres. Just across busy Grand River Avenue lies East Lansing’s downtown, teeming with restaurants, bars and shops.
“Our Spartan community is reeling today,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Michigan State graduate, said at the morning briefing.
Biden pledged his support during a phone call, she said.
“We mourn the loss of beautiful souls today and pray for those who are continuing to fight for their lives . ... Another place that is supposed to be about community and togetherness is shattered by bullets and bloodshed,” Whitmer said.
Michigan State has about 50,000 students, including 19,000 who live on campus. As hundreds of officers scoured the campus, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Detroit, students hid where they could Monday night.