Gunman searched ‘people that shot up colleges’ days before MSU killings

May 31, 2023
A 91-page preliminary police report on the Feb. 13 shootings that left 3 students dead and 5 injured provides the most complete account to date of Anthony McRae’s actions in the hours before the shooting.

Two days before he opened fire in a classroom at Michigan State University, Anthony McRae watched YouTube videos on school shootings and “killer documentaries” and video tours of MSU’s campus.

He searched for “people that shot up colleges” and “mass killings in college.”

That’s according to a 91-page preliminary police report on the Feb. 13 shootings that left three students dead and five injured and spread panic across the East Lansing campus. McRae, 43, shot and killed himself when approached by police officers hours later.

The report provides the most complete account to date of McRae’s actions in the hours before the shooting.

Just after 2:30 p.m., less than six hours before the shooting, McRae stopped at Gene’s Quik Shop on Turner Street, a few blocks from the home he shared with his father.

He bought a bottle of Blackberry brandy for $6.49 and a pack of Crowns cigarettes. McRae was a regular there, and a store employee told the police it was unusual for him to buy alcohol. He usually bought cigarettes, cat food and Pepsi. Then he caught the bus.

McRae had conducted multiple internet searches for Dunham’s Sports in late December. On the afternoon before the shooting, he went to the Dunham’s location on the east side of Lansing and then to the Dunham’s in the Lansing Mall, where he bought two boxes of ammunition.

An employee who let him into the store’s restroom said he was “maybe a little slow,” saying he spoke to her in a “delayed” manner. She added that she had an “eerie” feeling when she later saw his photo on television and realized it might have been the same man.

The MSU police officer conducting the interview, Craig Guiadiano, told her “there was no way she could’ve known this was going to happen.”

McRae caught the bus again. He transferred to the Capital Area Transit Authority’s Route 1 toward East Lansing at 6:58 p.m.

The first calls about a shooting inside a classroom in Berkey Hall came in at 8:18 p.m. It took MSU 13 minutes after that report to send out a campuswide alert. The report indicates that a request for a campus lockdown went out at 8:20 p.m.

“As I was leaving the police department’s parking lot at approximately 2020 hours, I contacted the MSU Police Cadets via radio and told them ‘Activate the lock down for the campus,’” Officer Zachary Rangel wrote. “I did not receive a response from the cadet. I attempted again to reach the cadet and they responded, ‘Go ahead….we got you.’”

MSU police department spokeswoman Dana Whyte said that “the front desk employee felt the need to confirm the alert request with the shift supervisor before activating the alert. Before activating the system, the employee wanted to make sure that this was in fact the directive that the supervisor requested.”

The department, she added, is “working to continuously improve” and that employees of the planned MSU Security Operations Center “will have the ability to send out alerts without approval from the shift supervisor, streamlining this process in an emergency.”

Police have said previously that McRae had no known connection to MSU, but the report also offers one possibility, though it’s not one that police find credible.

Someone interviewed by police said they’d met McRae in 2018 “at a gathering of community members who were interested in bettering their greater Lansing communities.”

The individual said they’d seen McRae roughly three weeks before the shooting, and he’d said that he was “beaten up by students.”

Whyte said that detectives “thoroughly investigated this claim and determined with certainty that the information is not credible, the individual did not actually know the shooter, and the incident he described never occurred.”

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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