Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Anthony McRae: What we know about alleged Michigan State University shooter

Suspect was alive and contacted by police before dying by suicide, say police officials

Stuti Mishra,Gustaf Kilander,Sheila Flynn
Wednesday 15 February 2023 09:34 GMT
Michigan State University shooting: Three killed as suspect named

The suspected gunman accused of killing three and injuring five at Michigan State University (MSU) has been named as 43-year-old Anthony McRae.

The gunman opened fire on Monday night at a social science building and a student union facility, triggering panic and chaos as students evacuated the premises.

McRae was named as the shooter on Tuesday morning. He died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound as police closed in on him.

Motive unclear

Authorities previously said the suspect had no known affiliation with the university and the motive for the shooting was unclear.

The first shots were fired at Berkey Hall at 8.18pm on the campus’s north side, before further gunshots were heard at the Snyder-Phillips Hall, around 650m away.

At around 8.30pm, students received a text message alert telling them to shelter “in place immediately” and to “run, hide, fight” in that order.

Police and emergency vehicles quickly swarmed the area. MSU police said that, at 9.34pm, the IM East sports centre was being secured and at 10.10pm, Berkey Hall, the Snyder-Phillips Hall and other nearby areas had been secured.

MSU interim deputy police chief Chris Rozman told a news conference that, to his knowledge, the school had not received threats in the preceding days.

Suspect alive and contacted by police before he shot himself

The suspect was alive and contacted by police before he shot himself, police said. The authorities are continuing to investigate different areas to find out more about the suspect.

Meanwhile, all five victims admitted at Sparrow Hospital are in critical condition, said the MSU police in an update on Twitter.

Michigan State University students evacuate to a safe area during an active shooter situation on campus on 13 February 2023 in Lansing, Michigan (Getty Images)

‘A uniquely American problem’

Michigan’s recently re-elected governor Gretchen Whitmer said she had been briefed on the shooting and that the state police force would assist MSU.

She said gun violence was “a uniquely American problem” and said things “don’t have to be this way”.

“Certain places are supposed to be about community, learning, or joy — elementary schools and college campuses, movie theatres and dance halls, grocery stores and workplaces,” Ms Whitmer said in a statement.

“They should not be the sites of bloodshed. This is a uniquely American problem. Too many of us scan rooms for exits when we enter them. We plan who that last text or call would go to. We should not, we cannot, accept living like this.”

Caller’s tip led police to shooter

Law enforcement said during a press conference on Tuesday that a caller’s tip led police to the shooter. Police said they haven’t established a possible motive, saying that they don’t know why he carried out the shooting.

Anthony McRae in 2019 (Michigan Department of Corrections)

“We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point,” Chief Rozman said, adding that this would be a focus of the investigation.

McRae was wearing dark trousers, red shoes, and a denim jacket at the time of the shooting. Large parts of his face were shielded, he had clothing pulled over his mouth and a baseball hat covering some of the rest of his face.

This combination of images from surveillance video provided by Michigan State University Police and Public Safety show a suspect whom authorities are looking for in connection with multiple shootings at the university late Monday, 13 February 2023 (AP)

Interim Deputy Police Chief Chris Rozman said during a press conference on Tuesday morning that all three of those who were killed were students at the school. He noted that at least two people died and several were injured at Berkey Hall.

Search warrant carried out, note found

Police said on Tuesday that a search warrant had been carried out on a residence connected to the suspect.

On Tuesday morning, reports claimed that a note was found with McRae’s body after he killed himself. The note allegedly indicated threats to two New Jersey schools.

Known for firing guns on father’s property

Meanwhile, it emerged that McRae had been living with his father, had firearms convictions and was known for firing weapons on the property, according to neighbours.

Megan Bender, who lives on the same street as McRae and his father, Michael, in Lansing – just over five miles from the MSU campus – toldThe Detroit News that the suspect would fire out of the back door of the home, she believed for target practice, and police had previously been called to the address.

Michael McCrae, a well-known scrapper in the neighbourhood, has “never done any harm to anyone,” Ms Bender told the outlet. “He’s just an old man, minds his business.”

Previous charges

Anthony McRae was charged in 2019 with carrying a concealed pistol without a permit, a felony, and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, a misdemeanour, according to records obtained by The Detroit News. He pleaded guilty to the second charge, the felony was dismissed and he was sentenced to probation, which ended in May 2021.

According to records, the suspect has also listed addresses in Bear, Delaware – the same hometown as Barry Croft, 47, who was sentenced in December for the plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan.

Father reveals ‘mean’ and reclusive behaviour after mother’s death

McRae became “mean” and spent most of his time in his room following the death of his mother two years ago, his father told The Independent.

His father Michael McRae, 67, shared his shock at the shooting on Tuesday.

Mr McRae said he’d been unaware his son had any guns in the house and had told the 43-year-old to get rid of any weapons after Anthony was charged in 2019 with carrying a concealed pistol without a permit and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle. He pleaded to the second charge, a misdemeanour, and was given probation that ended in 2021.

“I don’t allow guns in my house,” Mr McRae said. “I don’t believe in that. I got my Bible. I didn’t know what he was going on doing and what was in his mind to do.”

‘Anthony never got over his grieving’

Mr McRae said his son had held several good jobs, including seven years at a warehouse, and was extremely close with his mother, Linda, who passed away in 2020 from a stroke. She’d been married for 45 years to Mr McRae, who worked for General Motors for three decades.

“Anthony never got over his grieving,” Mr McRae said.

“He was starting to get mean, kind of like putting himself in his own sheltered world,” he said, adding that he’d worried about his son and asked him repeatedly if he needed help only to be told the 43-year-old was fine.

He said he told his son: “You’ve got an attitude problem – what’s going on with you? Do you need help?”

The response, he said, was: “I’m okay, dad.”

He said Anthony had not worked in about six months and he’d told his son he’d take him to register for disability and food stamps. Mr McRae urged him to “get a checkup, let them check if you’re over stressed out.”

Instead, his son shut himself off in his room.

“When he’s in his room, I don’t go in there, because he won’t let me in there anyway,” he told The Independent, still speaking of his son in the present tense. Anthony allegedly turned the gun on himself after killing three and injuring five during an armed attack on Michigan State University.

‘I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, not another one’’

His father said he was unaware of any problems the suspect might have had with MSU or anyone else. The elder McRae was listening to music at home on his radio when a news bulletin broke in about the mass shooting.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, not another one. Oh my God, not another one,’” he said, never once acquainting the incident with his son.

Then he got a phone call.

“My neighbour called me and said, ‘Michael?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Your son was killed,’” he said. “I said, ‘Wait a minute – what are you talking about?’”

Ordered to come out with his hands up

It wasn’t long before another neighbour called to inform him the street was littered with police vehicles and flashing lights. Soon after, officers ordered Mr McRae to come out with his hands up.

“I’m shocked that this happened,” he told The Independent, adding: “I feel like I’m dreaming. It don’t seem real to me.”

He said he’d been unaware of reports that Anthony had been found with notes threatening attacks on two New Jersey schools. He said the family had lived in the state, however, when he worked for GM in Trenton but could recall no problems Anthony may have had. Linda Gail McRae, according to her obituary, was also born and raised in Trenton.

Addressing America’s plague of mass shootings, Mr McRae blamed “what’s going on now with video games and telephone ... this is why they do crazy things, because they’re playig video games. All the game you got are shooting and killing, shooting and killing.”

Still in shock, and supported by his family members, Mr McRae was trying on Tuesday to come to terms with what he was being told about his son.

“I’m so sorry this happened,” he said, extending his condolences to the victims and their families. “God bless them and ... forgive my son for what he’s done.”

Father of suspect says son became ‘evil angry’ after death of mother

McRae grew angry and bitter following the 2020 death of his mother Linda from a stroke, his father said.

Mr McRae said his son became isolated after his mother’s passing.

“Ever since my wife died, my son began to change,” Mr McRae told CNN on Tuesday. “He was getting more and more bitter. Angry and bitter. So angry. Evil angry … He began to really let himself go. His teeth were falling out. He stopped cutting his hair. He looked like a wolf man.”

The suspect, 43, lived with his father in a small house in the Michigan state capital of Lansing. Mr McRae said his son had been struggling to keep a job and was unemployed, but added that he had been working at a warehouse for seven years putting refrigerators into trucks.

Exterior scene of the residence of Anthony McRae, in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 (AP)

Mr McRae said 30 officers arrived at his residence and searched his son’s bedroom after the shooting on Monday night.

Mr McRae said his son “was lost, totally lost,” after the passing of his mother.

“He didn’t care about anything no more. And he wouldn’t talk to me or anyone,” he added. He said his son would remain in his room for long stretches of time playing video games.

“He only came out to go to the kitchen or go to the bathroom, then he’d go right back in,” the father told CNN.

He said his son refused when he suggested the suspect go to a doctor.

“He got mad if I tried to get him help,” the father told the network. “I was trying to help him. He’d close the door. He stayed in his room a lot.”

Exterior scene of the residence of Anthony McRae, in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP)

“I didn’t want to start trouble, he’d get mad at me,” he said.

Mr McRae said his son had a weapon a number of years ago, but that police had taken it away.

According to legal filings, the suspect pled guilty to a 2019 firearms violation. Mr McRae said he thinks his son had gotten another gun but that he had it in his room and denied to his father that he had a firearm.

The father said his son’s mood would change fast.

“I don’t know what happened to make him turn like this,” he said.

“He’d treat me like I was invisible. I’d ask, ‘why are you treating me this way? What did I do?’” he added.

Sister speaks out: ‘I’m just so sorry’

The sister of the 43-year-old suspect has spoken out following the shooting, telling CNN that she’s “shocked” by what happened and that she has “no idea” about what a possible motive could have been.

Melinda McRae said she grew up in a loving home alongside her brother. But, like her father, she told the network that he had been isolated as he stayed in a room in his father’s home.

Ms McRae said he often fought with his parents, and often grew irate at their mother.

When she died in 2020 after a stroke, he was badly affected by the passing, sharing deep sorrow.

She told CNN that the last time she saw him was at their mother’s funeral. She added that he would sometimes leave town and be unable to keep a job. The suspect’s father expressed similar issues to the outlet.

She said he would go to various “cities and just [live] in a shelter”.

“I’m just so sorry about the innocent people that got killed,” she told the network.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in