Three dead, five injured in Michigan State University shooting, presumed dead
(This February 13 story has been corrected to say the suspect pleaded guilty on paragraph 21.)
By Dieu-Nalio Chery and Steve Gorman
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Reuters) – A gunman opened fire on the main campus of Michigan State University on Monday night, killing three people and injuring five before an hours-long manhunt for the suspect ended in his death, apparently from a self-shot, police said.
The 43-year-old gunman had no known university affiliation and his motive remained a mystery, police said at a morning news conference more than five hours after the violence began on the sprawling East Lansing campus, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.
Details about the sequence of events remained sketchy, but Chris Rozman, deputy interim chief of campus police, said shots were fired at two locations — an academic building called Berkey Hall and the Michigan State University (MSU) Union Building.
In response to the shooting, which began just after 8 p.m. (0100 GMT), police swarmed the campus and found victims in both locations, Rozman told reporters at the televised briefing.
Rozman said investigators had no information on the motive, adding that the university was not aware of any threats against the campus prior to Monday’s bloodshed.
Rozman said three victims were killed and five were taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Lansing, the state capital, all in critical condition. Two of the dead were at Berkey Hall and the other at the MSU Union.
Officials declined to reveal details about the victims, some of whom are still being determined, Rozman said.
The suspect’s name and other information were not immediately released, and police said they remain baffled at what sparked the shooting.
“We have no idea why he came on campus tonight to do this,” Rozman told reporters.
The gunman was confirmed dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot about four hours after the bloodshed began, Rozman said.
“There is no longer any threat to the campus. We believe there is only one suspect in this incident,” he said.
Rozman also said the suspect was “once contacted by law enforcement off campus,” adding “this scene is being investigated as a crime scene.”
It remained unclear whether the gunman was found dead after a confrontation with police, or whether he may have taken his own life in such an encounter.
About an hour earlier, MSU police had released two stills of the suspect from surveillance video showing him entering a building, then climbing a short flight of stairs and wearing a jacket, baseball cap and black mask over his lower face. In one hand he held what appeared to be a pistol.
Students, faculty and residents in the surrounding off-campus neighborhoods of East Lansing had been ordered by authorities to “take shelter on the spot” during the manhunt. That recommendation was lifted once the suspect’s death was confirmed.
‘GO! GO! GO
Local television news footage captured during the door-to-door search showed students walking past heavily armed police officers outside campus buildings in the cold night air, arms raised above their heads in an “active gunner” evacuation ritual that indicated the US school campus has become commonplace.
MSU officials said Monday night that all classes and school activities at the university’s flagship East Lansing campus, a public academic center with about 50,000 students, mostly college students, would be canceled for 48 hours.
“We will take two days … to give ourselves time to reflect and grieve and to be together,” MSU President Teresa Woodruff said early Tuesday.
The violence came about 14 months after a fatal mass shooting on November 30, 2021 at Oxford High School in Oakland County, Michigan about 80 miles east of East Lansing, in which a 15-year-old student opened fire with a semi-automatic Gun.
The attack, the deadliest shooting at a US school this year, killed four classmates and injured six students and a teacher.
Authorities said the teenage suspect in the 2021 shooting, who has pleaded guilty to murder, used a gun his parents bought him as a Christmas present despite signs he was emotionally disturbed. Both parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the case.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on Twitter she would be briefed on the East Lansing shooting.
Alexis Dinkins, an MSU sophomore who was staying in Akers Hall, an on-campus dormitory, told the Detroit News she heard people barricading doors and shouting “go, go, go” as they the incident played out.
As she and others fled the dormitory, they were met by police officers who told them to go to a nearby bus stop.
“We don’t feel safe anywhere,” the Detroit News quoted Dinkins as saying as she stood with a group of students on a campus sidewalk after leaving Akers. She described the situation as “terrifying”.
(Reporting by Dieu-Nalio Chery in East Lansing; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Long Beach, California and Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill & Shri Navaratnam)