School Shootings: Five Years Since Parkland, 19 And A Half Hours Since Michigan State
Another armed American went on a shooting spree last night, this time at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He killed three people and wounded five, leaving all the wounded with life-threatening injuries. All the dead and wounded were MSU students, and police said last night that there was no known motive, or even any connection between the shooter and the university. The shootings began in an academic building, where two students were killed, and the gunman then walked to the student union, where he killed another student.
The suspected killer, Anthony McRae, was a 43-year-old Black man, so slightly outside the usual white male demographic of mass shooters. But like many other mass killers, he killed himself when police confronted him at an off-campus location, hours after the murders. He apparently left a note, although its contents haven't yet been released.
The Washington Post reports that Michael McRae, the gunman's father, said in an interview that even after a 2019 weapons charge, his son obtained a gun that he sometimes fired in their backyard, although the younger McRae denied he had a gun.
“I told him to get rid of the gun,” the 66-year-old father told The Post. “He kept lying to me about it and told me he got rid of it.”
There's also this weird detail, according to the Lansing State Journal:
The Township of Ewing Police Department in Ewing, New Jersey, published a press release on Tuesday saying they were notified by the New Jersey State Police that the mass shooting at MSU could be connected to Ewing. Police believe McRae had ties to Ewing Township and the note "indicated a threat to two Ewing Public Schools," according to the press release. Police determined there was not a threat to the New Jersey schools.
The press release also said McRae had a "history of mental health issues," so clearly America's overly plentiful supply of guns had nothing to do with this latest tragedy. The usual ghouls on Twitter have instead been insisting that if only MSU allowed concealed carry on campus, the gunman could have been stopped, although that tends to happen only rarely — in only three percent of active shooter incidents — and often only after people are dead or injured.
In an especially cruel twist, this is actually the second school shooting that some MSU students have survived, since a number of current MSU students also survived the 2021 shooting at Oxford High School, in which a 15-year-old killed four students and wounded seven others. There's also a Sandy Hook survivor at MSU.
At a press conference this morning, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) said, "I cannot believe that I am here doing this again 15 months later. [...] I am filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools." Slotkin's district includes both East Lansing and Oxford.
Slotkin noted that while watching TV coverage of the evacuation of an MSU campus building last night, she'd seen a student wearing one of the "Oxford Strong" sweatshirts distributed to students following the 2021 shooting. She added,
We have children in Michigan who are living through their second school shooting in under a year and a half. If this is not a wake up call to do something, I don't know what is.
I would say that you either care about protecting kids or you don't. You either care about having an open and honest conversation about what is going on in our society or you don't. Please don't tell me you care about the safety of children if you are not willing to have a conversation about keeping them safe in a place that should be a sanctuary.
Apparently Rep. Slotkin doesn't appreciate all the great work Republicans have done to protect children from books about LGBTQ people and America's history of racism, from getting gender-affirming healthcare that they, their parents, and their doctors agree is needed, or from the tyranny of having to wear masks.
TV station WDIV spoke to Andrea Ferguson, the mother of a student who survived the Oxford shooting and just started attending MSU this semester. Ferguson said her daughter "had just ended class and hopped on the bus and went across campus and called me and while we were on the phone, all of the sudden she started getting text messages. It was like reliving Oxford all over again.”
Ferguson said that her daughter was
unbelievably terrified, but I have to say, once the reality kicked in, she knew what to do — and that’s what’s important is that the kids know what to do. [...] It’s really, really surreal to have to worry about this, and to know exactly what to do, I mean, my husband and I both went into action like never before.
In a separate interview with another parent of a graduate of Oxford High, WJBK-TV reported that the woman — who isn't named — said her daughter had
witnessed 20 shots being fired. She lives right across from the Union. She heard the screaming, and she called me right away. [...] She's got a little PTSD from the Oxford shooting, and she's just devastated and so scared right now.
In addition, a third young woman, Jackie Matthews, who survived the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut (26 dead), took to TikTok last night to say she was in a building near the shootings at MSU.
"I am 21 years old and this is the second mass shooting that I have now lived through," she said.
In the video, Matthews said she had crouched for so long in her classroom on Dec. 14, 2012, that she was injured in her lower back, an injury that flares up when she's in a stressful situation.
So now America can look forward to stories of surviving multiple mass shootings, and we'll probably outpace the number of Japanese people who lived through both the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Atomic bomb survivors in Japan are known as hibakusha, or "bomb affected persons." We'll probably come up with our own term for survivors of two — or more — mass shootings.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which a student with an AR-15 killed 14 students and three school staff, and also wounded 17 other people. In preparation for that grim anniversary, Education Week yesterday published statistics on the school shootings since. The only year since Parkland in which there were no school shootings was 2020, when we had the pandemic, but they picked right up again.
In all, 103 people have been killed and 281 people injured from school shootings since 2018. In 2022, there were 51 school shootings—more than double the numbers for 2018 and 2019, which both saw 24 such incidents. Last year, school shootings hit a record, with 100 people shot on school campuses and 40 people killed.
That paragraph was already obsolete by last night, with three more deaths and five more injuries, assuming all those critically wounded pull through.
We may find out from the MSU shooter's note that he intended to kill people on the Parkland anniversary. Or it may just be a coincidence. At this rate, most days will eventually be the anniversary of a mass shooting.
It seems like the sort of thing an advanced industrial nation would be able to do something about, if we didn't have so many political leaders dedicated to the idea that the Constitution makes all this bloodshed inevitable.
[Lansing State Journal / Detroit Free Press / WDIV-TV / WJBK-TV / Education Week / Detroit Free Press / WaPo]
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