MSU survivors have heartbreaking responses to mass shooting. For some, it wasn’t their first

Some students who survived Monday's shooting also survived the Oxford school shooting 14 months earlier

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor
Published February 14, 2023 9:00AM (EST)
Updated February 14, 2023 9:35AM (EST)
Michigan State University students hug during an active shooter situation on campus on February 13, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.  (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Michigan State University students hug during an active shooter situation on campus on February 13, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

A gunman killed three people and wounded five others at Michigan State University on Monday before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Tuesday.

Anthony McRae, a 43-year-old man with no affiliation with the university, was confronted by police about five miles off-campus early Tuesday morning before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot, campus police said. 

The shooting began at an academic building before the gunman moved to a nearby student union. Students sheltered in place for about four hours as police hunted for the shooter.

"This truly has been a nightmare we're living tonight," said Chris Rozman, the interim deputy campus police chief. "We have no idea why he came to campus to do this tonight. That is part of our ongoing investigation," he added.

Student Dominik Molotky told ABC News that he and other students heard gunshots outside their classroom after 8 pm.

"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," he said. "After that, we broke out the window and I climbed out of there, and then I booked it back to my apartment."

Fellow student Ryan Kunkel told the Associated Press that he and about 13 other students turned off the light in their classroom and "nothing came out of anyone's mouth" for over four hours.

"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."

Student Ted Zimbo told the AP he was walking to his dorm when he saw a woman with a "ton of blood on her."

"She told me, 'Someone came in our classroom and started shooting,'" Zimbo told the outlet. "Her hands were completely covered in blood. It was on her pants and her shoes. She said, 'It's my friend's blood.'"

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At least one student who survived the shooting survived another school shooting just 14 months earlier, when four students were killed and seven others were wounded at a shooting at Oxford High School.

"She said, 'Mom, I hear gunshots … What's going on?'" the freshman's mother, Jennifer Mancini, told the Detroit Free Press. Mancini asked the outlet not to use her daughter's name.

Mancini said her daughter was across the street from the student union when the gunshots began.

"I can't believe this is happening again," she told the Free Press. "She said that she had PTSD. She said she can't believe this is happening again."

Mancini said that her daughter's other friends from Oxford who also attend MSU were able to quickly leave East Lansing but her daughter could not because she was too close to the shooting.

"She's in the heart of it and can't get out. She said, 'Mom I just want to come home, I want to hold you,'" Mancini recalled. "I told her, turn all the lights out, lock the door, turn your ringer off on your phone and just be quiet until this is over."

Other students also expressed frustration and heartbreak over the persistent threat of being shot in school.

"It's far too late for this to be called a wake-up call," Ben Finkelstein, a senior at MSU, told the Lansing State Journal. "The sad truth is I doubt we're going to be the last."

Jordan Palmer, another senior, told the Detroit Free Press that she did not expect gun violence to break out at MSU.

"I was really scared. I mean, it's something that I think is a huge problem in this country continues to be a pattern over and over again. And it's just kind of like, you always hope that it's not going to be here and you always say like, 'Oh wow, that's close to home,' but like this is home," she said.

The MSU shooting came on the eve of the five-year anniversary of the Parkland school shooting.

"Every single shooting could be one of the last," Parkland survivor David Hogg wrote Monday night. "Instead we continue the endless debate that drives the inaction which brought us here. Until we start making our response to these shootings finding common ground and acting like we did after Parkland- this won't end."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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