Michigan university shooting: Gunman kills three, wounds five

Gunman opened fire in academic building and student union on Monday night before killing self, police say.

Police investigate the scene of a shooting at Berkey Hall on the campus of Michigan State University [Al Goldis/The Associated Press]

A gunman has fatally shot three people at Michigan State University in the United States and wounded five others before killing himself.

The attacker opened fire on Monday night at an academic building – Berkey Hall – and a nearby student union at the East Lansing campus, according to Chris Rozman, interim deputy chief of the campus police department.

Two of the victims were killed in Berkey Hall and a third was killed in the student union, Rozman said. Police have identified the victims as Alexandria Verner, Brian Fraser and Arielle Anderson, three students from the suburban Detroit area.

Police said that the gunman fatally shot himself off-campus later. The wounded were all listed in critical condition early on Tuesday.

His motive behind the attack was not immediately clear, although Rozman said the 43-year-old man had no known affiliation with the university. His identity was not immediately released.

“This truly has been a nightmare we’re living tonight,” said Rozman. “We have no idea why he came to campus to do this tonight.”

Hundreds of officers had scoured the East Lansing campus, about 145km (90 miles) northwest of Detroit, for the suspect, whom police had initially described as a Black man with red shoes, a jean jacket and a cap.

Students were ordered to shelter in place for hours at the campus, which serves about 50,000 students. It was not clear what kind of firearm the gunman used in the attack.

INTERACTIVE Infographic How many mass shootings did the US have 2022 poster image

Ted Zimbo, a student at the university, told The Associated Press he was walking to his residence hall when he encountered a woman with a “tonne of blood on her”.

“She told me ‘someone came in our classroom and started shooting’,” Zimbo said. “Her hands were completely covered in blood. It was on her trousers and her shoes. She said, ‘It’s my friend’s blood’.”

Aedan Kelley, a junior who lives close to the campus, also told the news agency he locked his doors and covered his windows “just in case”.

Sirens were constant, he said, and helicopters hovered overhead during the police search.

School officials said that all classes and school activities would be cancelled for 48 hours.

Mass shootings have become alarmingly common in the US, with 648 reported in 2022, slightly less than the 690 reported in 2021, according to the Gun Violence Archive tracker.

There have been at least 67 mass shootings in 2023, according to the tracker, which classifies mass shootings as those with four or more victims.

The recent high-profile attack saw a gunman fatally shoot 11 people during a Lunar New Year party in Monterey Park, California.

Schools, places of worship and work are common targets.

In 2022, a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.

In 2018, an attacker fatally shot 17 at a high school in Parkland, Florida. In 2012, a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.

INTERACTIVE The deadliest mass shootings in the US infographic updated 2022

The state of Michigan has also seen recent gun violence at educational facilities, with four students killed when their classmate opened fire at Oxford High School in Oakland County in November 2021.

In 2022, US President Joe Biden signed into law the first federal gun control legislation in decades. However, advocates said the bill fell far short of several long-sought reforms, including higher age restrictions for gun purchases and a federal ban on assault weapons.

Responding to the most recent incident, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called mass shootings “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,” she tweeted. “We should not, we cannot, accept living like this.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies