A 43-year-old gunman opened fire Monday night on Michigan State University’s East Lansing campus, killing three people and wounding five others before shooting himself hours later after he was contacted by police off-campus.
The university’s interim president, Teresa Woodruff, said early Tuesday morning the school would move to emergency operations for two days to give students, staff, and faculty “time to think, grieve and be together” after a “day of shock and heartbreak,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
The school alerted students of a report of shots fired at about 8:30 p.m. Monday night, telling them to “run, hide, fight.”
“Run means evacuate away from danger if you can do so safely, Hide means to secure-in-place, and Fight means protect yourself if no other option,” the alert said.
Police swarmed onto campus along with ambulances and emergency personnel tending to those who had been shot. Before midnight, MSU police confirmed that three people had died — two at Berkey Hall, the home of the school’s sociology department and where the shooting began, and one at the student union two blocks away.
Reports of another shooting location at a fitness and recreation center turned out to be false, officials said.
Investigators have not yet said if those shot were students. They did say that the gunman, identified early Tuesday as Anthony McRae, was not affiliated with the university.
MSU’s Interim Deputy Police Chief Chris Rozmam said that some of the wounded have life-threatening injuries. As of a 1:30 a.m. news conference, all were in critical condition.
Shortly after their initial news conference before midnight, police released surveillance photos of the suspect in the shooting. the Associated Press said. At the second news conference, Rozman said police had been in contact with the suspect off-campus, but they found him dead from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
“We have no idea why he came to campus to do this tonight. That is part of our ongoing investigation,” the deputy chief said.
MSU student Dominik Molotky said he was in class at about 8:15 p.m. when a shot rang out outside the classroom. Moments later, the gunman entered the classroom and fired.
“I was ducking and covering, and the same with the rest of the students. He let off four more rounds and when it went silent for about 30 seconds to a minute, two of my classmates started breaking open a window, and that took about 30 seconds to happen. There was glass everywhere,” Molotky said.
“After that, we broke out the window and I climbed out of there, and then I booked it back to my apartment,” he said. He didn’t know if anyone in his class was hit.
In the nearby engineering building, student Ryan Kunkel said he and about 13 classmates got the email alert about the shooting. They turned off the lights, he said, and acted like there “was a shooter right outside the door.”
>“Nothing came out of anyone’s mouth” for over four hours, Kunkel said.
“I wasn’t ready to accept that this is really going on next door,” Kunkel said. “This is supposed to be a place where I’m coming, learning and bettering myself. And instead, students are getting hurt.”
Officials quickly sent out support for the students and staff, especially Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose sons attend MSU.
“While my Spartan sons are safe, I am mourning the devastating loss and senseless violence,” she said. “The events at Michigan State University are a tragedy for the entire state of Michigan. My thoughts are with the victims, their families, friends, and loved ones. … I am hopeful that the investigation reveals how we can better protect our children, our neighbors, and all those who call Michigan home.”
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[Featured image: Students gather on the campus of Michigan State University after a shelter in place order was lifted early Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich. A gunman opened fire Monday night at Michigan State University, killing three people and wounding five more, before fatally shooting himself after an hours-long manhunt that forced frightened students to hide in the dark. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)]