'We grieve with the MSU community today': Central Michigan University, nation react to campus shooting

Michigan State University students gather around the Spartan Statue on Feb. 14 after a mass shooting took place last night on campus in East Lansing. Campus and community members took turns placing flowers on the statue as they grieve and honor those affected by the shooting.

EAST LANSING – Flowers decorated the Spartan Statue on the Michigan State University campus Tuesday, a makeshift memorial to the three students killed and five injured by a lone gunman Monday night. Campus and community members took turns placing floral tributes at the base of the bronze statue, which depicts a victorious warrior, helmet in-hand and a stern stare on his face, striding forward. 

The mass shooting — the 67th in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive — drew statements of condolences, support and love from across the nation Valentine’s Day. 

“We are devastated by the loss of life,” Central Michigan University President Bob Davies wrote in an email letter to the campus community. “We grieve with the MSU community today and hold fast to hope that the additional victims will fully recover.  

“University campuses are meant to be places where students can explore their passions and pursue their dreams; we mourn the loss of those dreams and that unrealized potential.”

Here in Mount Pleasant, the Division of Student Affairs hosted a community gathering place in the Bovee University Center Auditorium. Attendees could meet with Counseling Center and CMU CARE Team staff, write a message of support for the MSU community or pick up a green ribbon to show their support. 

Social and mental health professionals were on-hand in Anspach Hall Tuesday, and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Incusion offered group processing hours at Warrnier Hall. 

Taylor Idema, president of the CMU Student Government Association, in an open letter to MSU called on the Central Michigan community to support its peers, colleagues, friends and family to the south. 

“Spartans, we stand with you and are here to provide support in whatever way we can,” she wrote. “We are here to feel with you, to comfort you and to stand together against gun violence in the United States—especially in our schools. There has never been, and never will be, any tolerance for acts of this kind on our campuses.” 

Michigan State University police identified the slain students as Arielle Anderson, a junior from Grosse Pointe; Brian Fraser, a sophomore from Grosse Pointe; and Alexandria Verner, a junior from Clawson. Five more victims remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday evening. 

The gunman, identified as 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after being confronted by police. Officials said he had no affiliation with the campus.

MSU Police officials said in a statement its department and law enforcement partners would conduct “a comprehensive and thorough investigation regarding this tragic incident.” 

The first shots were reported around 8:18 p.m. Monday; the gunman was identified at 11:35 p.m. 

“MSU’s campus is a special place for so many, and it is now the site of another senseless act of gun violence,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement issued shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. “Parents across Michigan were on pins and needles calling their kids to check in on them and tell them they love them.”

“This will be a difficult time for the friends and families of the victims, members of the MSU community and individuals throughout our state. We are a community that cares for one another. Please offer your compassion, patience and kindness to others, understanding that this news will impact each of us differently." ”

The governor ordered flags to be lowered to half staff Tuesday morning. President Joe Biden said in a statement the same day that he directed the deployment of “all necessary federal law enforcement to support local and state response efforts. 

“I assured her that we would continue to provide the resources and support needed in the weeks ahead,” the president continued. 

According to the American Counseling Association, the impact of mass violence can send a shockwave far beyond the boundaries of the immediately affected area. The nonprofit based in Alexandria, Virginia, offered some advice for both those mourning such an event, and those caring for the bereaved.

  • Attend to self care: Monitor your physical health needs, being sure to eat, sleep, exercise and, to the extent possible, maintain a normal daily routine. 
  • Pay attention to your emotional health: Feelings are raw during difficult times, and may come in a wide range. Know that others are also experiencing strong emotional reactions and may need time and patience to put their feelings and thoughts in order. 
  • Try to recognize when those around you may need extra support: It’s not uncommon for individuals of all ages to experience stress during these types of events. Watch for dramatic changes in behaviors and, if necessary, point individuals to the support or counseling resources available. 
  • Avoid overexposure to media: While it’s important to stay informed, it’s also OK to put down the mobile device and disconnect from social media for a while. 
  • Maintain contact with friends and family: They love you and are there to offer what emotional support they can. 
  • Focus on your strength base: Maintain practices that bring you emotional relief. Remind yourself of people and events that are meaningful and comforting. 
  • Talk to others as needed: Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are having trouble recovering or everyday tasks seem difficult to manage. 

In his letter to campus, President Davies acknowledged that the MSU shooting may have hit very closely to home for many Central Michigan community members, who have friends, colleagues and family members who live, study and work at the Big 10 university. He called on the CMU community to show solidarity and grace throughout the healing process. 

“This will be a difficult time for the friends and families of the victims, members of the MSU community and individuals throughout our state,” Davies wrote. “We are a community that cares for one another. Please offer your compassion, patience and kindness to others, understanding that this news will impact each of us differently."

He noted that students in need of extra support may contact the CMU Counseling Center at 989-774-3381. Faculty and staff can reach out to Health Advocate by calling (866) 799-2691. 

Additional 24-hour resources also are available on the Counseling Center webpage.