UNITED STATES—It is unfortunate that we are having this conversation yet again, but another mass shooting has transpired in the United States, this time on the college campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. For me, this is quite personal as an alumnus of the university, in addition to having a niece who currently attends the school as a senior.
When I first heard the news late Monday night, I thought it might be a joke, but it soon became a reality that this was no prank, an active shooter was on the loose at MSU and several people had been shot. My first thought was to contact my brother to see if he had heard from my niece. He heard nothing, we go an hour, still hear nothing, another hour, and still hear nothing, than we soon hear from her that she is ok. A sigh of relief I can breathe, but just imagine those 2 hours of waiting and hoping all is ok, and not knowing anything. It is a parent’s worst fear.
Patiently waiting to hear from your loved one that they are ok, they are safe or if you’re going to be the parent that receives that dreaded call that something has happened to your child is unbearable and impossible to fathom. However, that is the stark reality several parents had to endure Monday night in East Lansing, Michigan, as the shooter, who has been identified as Anthony McRae, 43, no affiliation with the university injured 5 people, and killed three students. All of the individuals injured are students at Michigan State University.
I cannot explain what I am feeling right now because I’m stunned, shocked by these events. I have close ties to the university as undergraduate and graduate alumni. The shootings transpired at locations I know all too well: Berkey Hall and MSU Union. Berkey Hall is a short distance from the MSU Union, a place known for students who are taking classes, while the Union is a place to study, to eat and to hang up. Berkey Hall is a massive building where many students have classes throughout the semester. Some classrooms small, some large, but the thing that is scary is many of those classrooms don’t have a back exit so if someone enters with a gun, escape is very difficult. You could try to escape from the windows, but these are not those easy windows that just slide up, they tilt so that is another issue you have to consider.
MSU is one of the largest campuses in the country and it’s even more daunting at night because there are many pockets of the campus that are quite dark and it is easy to hide or allude police as the shooter did for hours. Anyone can enter a vast majority of all the buildings on campus including the residence halls. With the academic buildings most close by 10 p.m. With the residence halls as you know, they are open 24/7, but only after midnight are students forced to show ID cards to gain entry. That means during the daytime anyone can enter these buildings or residence halls and if they wanted to cause chaos they could do so and no one would know.
Just try to place yourself in the shoes of these students, you’re at college hoping to learn, and out of nowhere, someone enters a building and begins firing shots. The panic, the fear the worry, the constant questions in your head: am I going to survive? Should I try to call my family? What should I tell my family? Imagine being the student having to consider those things? Now imagine being the parent who receives such a call or a text from your student noting what is transpiring and where they currently are and if they’re safe at all. The stress that places on the brain, I cannot even tell you what I was feeling as this unfolded. Beyond scary and knowing the suspect may have randomly chosen this university and the students he fired upon is even more frightening.
You also have the aftermath of the shooting, the students who may not have been injured, but witnessed seeing the shooter, seeing their friends or other students shot and fighting for their lives. Imagine trying to help someone survive until medics could arrive and you’re covered or drenched in blood. It would and can haunt you for the rest of your life. Would you be able to go back inside those buildings without thinking about what unfolded. Very unlikely, and you still have the worry as to rather it could happen again.
A campus that I have always felt was safe, it no longer safe. The ripple effect this is going to have on Michigan State University, college campuses, students, the concern of security and so much more is just unbearable to think about. I know so many people were expecting this to be a column about gun control. It is not, it is about how a community can be shattered by such an incident and how people who have strong connections to that community attempt to make sense and understand what has unfolded. You do not have the answers to those questions you so desperately want answered, but know you find yourself bounded by a tragedy that you would not wish on anyone. It is no longer safe. The ripple effect this is going to have on Michigan State…
Written By Jason Jones