LANSING, Mich. — Yet another American community was grappling Tuesday with the aftermath of yet another deadly mass shooting, this time on the campus of Michigan State University.
Police searched for a motive, survivors recounted their brush with death, politicians denounced the mayhem and expressed condolences, a heartbroken doctor broke down in tears as he tallied up the latest losses — three dead, five wounded, all students targeted by yet another suspect with an unknown grudge and a gun.
The post-chaos choreography following the latest mass shooting was all too familiar to Michigan mom Andrea Ferguson, whose daughter survived the 2021 massacre at Oxford High School and now attends Michigan State.
“It was like reliving Oxford all over again,” Ferguson said, referring to the high school massacre that left four students dead. “The phone call, the word shooting, shooter, it was surreal.”
This was also the second deadly mass shooting for 21-year-old Michigan State University senior Jackie Matthews. She was 11 years when a gunman armed with an assault rifle gunned down 20 first graders and six staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in her hometown of Newtown, Connecticut.
“Something so traumatic is devastating no matter what age you are,” said Matthews, who remembers being on lockdown at Reed Intermediate School, the neighboring school to Sandy Hook.
Meanwhile, an iconic fixture on the MSU campus known as The Rock was painted black Tuesday in response to the mass shooting. And written in red on the rock’s face were the words “How many more?” followed by “Stay Safe MSU.”
“This truly has been a nightmare that we are living tonight,” said Chris Rozman, interim deputy chief of the Michigan State University Police.
All three victims were from the Detroit suburbs, university police said. Alexandria Verner was a junior from Clawson, Brian Fraser was a sophomore from Grosse Pointe, and junior Arielle Anderson was also from Grosse Pointe.
Monday’s massacre was the second school shooting of the year, according to NBC News’ school shooting tracker. And it happened on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Parkland school shooting in Florida that left 14 students and three staff members dead.
The suspect was identified as Anthony Dwayne McRae, 43, who was not affiliated with MSU and who killed himself as police were closing-in on him, Rozman said.
Police have not yet come up with a motive. But the suspected gunman’s father, Michael McRae, told NBC News that his son turned “evil and mean” and became a recluse following his mother’s death two years ago.
Neighbor Megan Bender said the suspect lived with his dad, used a bicycle to get around, and drew complaints for firing his gun into the backyard.
“He was firing a firearm out of the back door of the house into the yard,” she said. “We’re right in the city. You shouldn’t be firing a firearm in the middle of the city.”
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