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Michigan State University will reopen Monday, one week after mass shooting left 3 students dead

The campus will reopen with academic adjustments in place and an increased police presence on campus, officials said Sunday.
/ Source: NBC News

Michigan State University will reopen on Monday, a week after the mass shooting that left three dead and five wounded, with academic adjustments in place and an increased police presence on campus, university officials announced at a news conference Sunday.

Officials framed the reopening as the beginning of the campus community’s healing process, not the end, and said support will remain available to students and faculty throughout the semester.

“No one thinks that we’re coming back to a normal week — in fact, this semester is not going to be normal,” Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko said.

Michigan State University students kneel at a memorial in East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State University students kneel at a memorial on campus in East Lansing, Michigan, on Feb. 15.Jake May / The Flint Journal via AP

No courses will be held this semester in either of the buildings where the shootings occurred — Berkey Hall, an academic building on the northern edge of the 50,000-student campus, and the MSU Union student center, less than a half mile west — according to Jeitschko. The university has moved 300 classes into other spaces across campus — including empty classrooms and lunchrooms — to accommodate the change, he said.

Professors have been urged to reassess goals for their courses and “extend grace, sympathy and empathy to their students,” who will be able to determine at the end of the semester whether or not they want to receive credit or grades for undergraduate courses, Jeitschko said.

“We asked that there be no heavy lifts, there be no attempts at making up for lost time or scrambling and doubling down for the rest of the semester,” Jeitschko added of officials’ direction to instructors.

Students who do not want to return to the university should contact the Office of Student Support and Accountability, Jeitschko said.

Many students went home after the shooting unfolded Monday night, leaving the campus quiet. Others who remained on campus took comfort in each other and mourned the victims: Alexandria Verner of Clawson, a junior; Brian Fraser of Grosse Pointe, a sophomore; and Arielle Anderson, also of Grosse Pointe.

MSU paying for victims’ funerals, hospital bills

MSU paid for the victims’ funerals, and hospital bills for the injured students, through its Spartan Strong Fund, which has raised more than $250,000 in the wake of the shooting, according to Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff.

Funerals for Fraser and Verner were held Saturday, and Anderson’s funeral is slated for later this week.

Four of the injured students are in critical condition and one is in stable condition, Woodruff said Sunday. The wounded students have not been publicly identified.

The Chinese consulate in Chicago has said two Chinese students were among the injured.

Funds raised following the shooting have also been used to pay for counseling and campus safety enhancements, Woodruff added.

For now, that will include more police officers on campus, Chris Rozman, interim deputy chief of the MSU Police, said Sunday. Additional measures to be determined in the future could include updates to doors, access control on campus, and other physical security changes, Rozman added.

“We want to make sure anything we consider is appropriately vetted and considered and focuses on long-term comprehensive solutions and not just short-term solutions,” Rozman said.

The buildings the shooter entered had been unlocked and “open to the public” when the shooter entered, Rozman previously said.

Counselors and therapy dogs from across the state and country have also been available to facilitate students’ and faculty members’ long-term healing, according to Assistant Provost and Executive Director of Health and Wellbeing Alexis Travis.

Officials said they hoped the return to campus would also aid in the school community’s recovery.

“We also know that being in community is very important — being able to meet with your friends and meet with colleagues to talk about things is very important,” said Vennie Gore, senior vice president for student life and engagement.

“We want to reclaim our community, we want to reclaim our campus,” he added.

A person holds flowers during a vigil on the campus of Michigan State University
A person holds flowers during a vigil on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan on Feb. 15.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Jo Kovach, the student body president, said students are “scared, but absolutely ready to do what they can to make changes,” adding that students have been involved in organizing protests and sharing information on resources to support their peers’ healing.

Woodruff, the president, added: “We’re a community that is strong, not as a reaction but as a statement of purpose and principal.”

Motive remains unknown

The suspected shooter was identified as Anthony Dwayne McRae, 43, who was not affiliated with MSU and who killed himself as police were closing-in on him in the adjacent city of Lansing, according to Rozman.

He was found with two legally purchased guns, ammunition and a note threatening violence against businesses, a church and a school district in New Jersey, officials have said. The guns were not registered, according to an investigation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said a 2019 misdemeanor conviction for possession of a loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle left the suspect ineligible to have a gun, making it unclear how he obtained the weapons used in the shooting.

Authorities have said the motive in the shooting remains unknown. Officials have acknowledged that the suspect had a history of mental health issues, which is part of their investigation.

The FBI and the Michigan State University Department of Police and Public Safety asked that anyone with information submit it via an online form.

The suspect’s father, Michael McRae, previously told NBC News that his son became “evil and mean” and a loner after his mother, Linda McRae, died of a stroke in September 2020, but said that he did not have a history of violence. 

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