Feb 16, 2023

Michigan Officials Hold Press Briefing on MSU Shooting Transcript

Michigan Officials Hold Press Briefing on MSU Shooting Transcript
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Law enforcement officials speak to press following a mass shooting on the Michigan State University campus that left four dead, including the shooter, and five injured. Read the transcript here.

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President Woodruff (00:00):

… week that we’ve all experienced. We’ve thanked many people who have been instrumental in the response and the recovery to Monday night’s horrific events. And one group that we haven’t yet thanked is the media. And so at the outset today, I want to offer my thanks on behalf of a grateful university, to all of you who helped spread the photo of the shooter on Monday night that led to the tip that came in and the conclusion of this event. You helped our community, you helped our state, and you helped our nation stay informed and allowed us to be more transparent as we all worked and walked together on this pathway. So I wanted to begin today just with a thank you to everyone in the media for helping to spread that essential and timely information. Others today in this news conference are going to provide updates on the investigation and law enforcement matters.

And so my comments are going to be brief and they’re going to focus on three areas. First, where are we now? What’s next in the process that’s going to guide our decisions as we move forward. As you’ll soon hear, the five students at Sparrow are still in critical condition, but I’m pleased that we are seeing some signs of improvement in some of our students and our Spartan nation continues to send good thoughts to each of them, to their families and to the doctors and nurses at Sparrow Hospital. As I’ve said before, grief is a profoundly personal thing and we know from trauma experts and from talking to colleagues at other universities who have experienced similar tragedies, everyone grieves differently and the recovery process isn’t linear. So each member of our campus will have different needs and our focus is on providing as much flexibility as possible in supporting the diverse needs of this campus community.

So as we move forward, I ask the campus and everyone in our Spartan community, and extended family is represented here to provide empathy and grace and the knowledge that each person’s support may be different and we will be considerate of that. I’m extremely grateful for the quick actions that we’ve had pulling together the many counseling and support services this week. We know that many in the community will continue to need services for months to come and that some haven’t reached out yet, but I am encouraged that and can be report that hundreds of students have already utilized our counseling services that were provided at the Hannah Community Center or in our residence halls. We also provided a service to employees that is called Reflect & Connect, and we’re looking into training for supervisors as more faculty and staff began returning to positions today and into next week. We are encouraging empathy and patience and an atmosphere for all to recover at their own pace and will continue to offer these services into the future.

Today, MSU is resuming standard operations after 48 hours of being in modified operations. While we are returning to standard operations classes remain suspended through Sunday. This standard operations means that the university offices are open, but in this case with wide latitude provided to supervisors across our university network. The two buildings, Berkey remains closed for the remainder of the semester. The second building, the Union is still being evaluated for decisions to be reported later. FBI special agent in charge of Michigan, James Taraska will report in just a moment on access to those buildings for students, faculty and staff who still have materials that are present in those spaces. Leaders across campus have been meeting with a variety of the groups that have been impacted, from our families of those that we have lost, as well as those who are bravely recovering at Sparrow. We’ve also been talking with our students, faculty and staff who are in the class of the shooter in Berkey Hall and the employees who are in the Union on Monday night.

We are listening and we are supporting at all levels. Our core leadership team is meeting daily and we will continue to do so to prioritize the needs of campus. We want to be supportive not only of our campus, but we understand that the community is involved and we want to give people the confidence to re-engage and stay engaged as we come together. Our alumni network, over 500,000 Spartans strong, are contacting us and wanting to get involved. They are generously donating their time and items that can be helpful to the community, including 15,000 candles last night, as well as flowers that were associated with our vigil. For those who want to give in a way that can support MSU at this time, we have set up a fund called Spartan Strong Fund, and you can find that on the MSU website. And Chief Lynch has also told me of the many people who have dropped off food and other items to our MSU PD and we are all very grateful for that outpouring of love and support.

And as I understand it, we’re out of kitchen space at this point, so we thank you for that outpouring in so many ways. We know as a campus that we have hard work ahead of us. Moving forward won’t be easy. Unfortunately, others in higher education have been through this and we are connecting in ways that through these shared experiences, we will have ideas about how we can evaluate our best plans forward. And as we move forward from today, we will work together to make informed decisions and lean on each other. None of us have all the answers, but we do have each other. So at this point I’d like to turn this briefing over to our chief of police and adjunct professor in our School of Criminal Justice, Marlon Lynch. Marlon.

Marlon Lynch (06:34):

Thank you President Woodruff. Good morning. I’d like to start with some thanks to outreach by our colleagues, our local partners, but also some well established associations, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the Commission Agency on Law Enforcement Accreditation. We have all received your support, prayers and thanks and very well valued, so thank you for that. In addition to that, I’ve decided to focus on some positive things, some positive things that have been shared with me over the past couple days with that. In helping us in our response to this critical incident, we had approximately 19 law enforcement agencies and six fire departments, numerous emergency medical services as well respond to that. We had off-duty police officers, not only from our police department but from local and partnering agencies that responded, that came without a request to help during that particular situation.

Not a surprise though. What occurred on Monday night as far as our response is a collaborative effort and is the product of constant and continuous training together, relationships and preparation for that. We also unfortunately had an opportunity to respond last week to Okemos High School with a very similar result, the differences that was not confirmed and it was ruled to be false. So just imagine the stress put on the first responders responding to a situation at Okemos High School that we take very seriously until otherwise notified and then just a few days later responding to this incident here. We have to recover too. We have to heal. That process has begun as well. We’ve made services available for our staff, our police and public safety staff beginning today. We also have short-term plans as well as long-term plans as we move forward for this.

And we are definitely consulting those that have been through this process before for that particular reason. I’ve learned a few amazing things, and again, not surprising, just knowing what has occurred and who’s involved. Our students that were in Berkey Hall, in addition to being placed in situations that they probably have never been encountered with before, when their students and their friends and classmates needed assistance, they rendered aid. They took the time to render aid with that. The officers that responded and within the buildings, within minutes, one of the first things they encountered were the victims and those victims happened to be our students and they stopped to render aid and immediately got emergency medical services on scene to remove them so that they could get the treatment and the care that they needed.

Those are significant because they gave them a chance those that had been wounded and they’re still fighting, but based on those being present at the time, stopping to actually render aid to them. The dispatchers. Dispatch function is a very key component to what we do, our response, and if any of you have heard any of the radio traffic that happened that night, it’s amazing. They were calm, they prioritized, they communicated well. They did their job. They did their job extremely well. Extremely well. My point in this is to say that it’s not based on an individual. We all have roles when it comes time to actually do what you’ve been trained to do. That happened and there’s a caring component as well. Some very selfless and stopping to assist when they could have easily have just run out of the building themselves. And there was nothing wrong with that at all. That’s part of how they’re actually trained. Our students, they received, they have the opportunity to receive that training in Run, Hide, Fight. And unfortunately some of them during their high school years, middle school years, think about the generation that’s here now, they’ve had to go through that, they’ve had to go through that. So I found it positive to be able to communicate that with that. Those are some stories that need to be discussed as well, and hopefully that is actually what takes place, which some has already done that, but I think we needed to take a moment to actually state that, the appreciation for that. So what we will hear now will be updates in addition to the Michigan State University Police and Public Safety representative that’s here. We also have Lansing Police Department, Michigan State Police, as well as the FBI come with updates. And again, we appreciate your presence here with that. Deputy Chief Rosman.

Deputy Chief Rosman (12:39):

Good morning everybody. Thank you, chief. I want to begin by again honoring the victims, our students. As a father, I cannot imagine what all the families continue to go through. The past few days have been so unbelievably difficult for our officers and our community and we continue to mourn with our community and start the healing process. The vigil last night was unbelievable, the turnout. We want to thank our Michigan State police partners for providing security at that event so our MSU police officers could attend and be with our community and mourn together. And that event truly was unbelievable how many people came from all over the country for that event. I’m going to start with some brief updates and then I’m going to hand it off to some of our law enforcement partners that are here today to offer additional details.

We’ve received questions about the ages of the deceased students and those are his followers. Arielle Anderson was 19 years old. Brian Fraser was 20 years old and Alexandria Verner was also 20 years old. We were present yesterday when they were recognized in the chamber of the Michigan House of Representatives, and that was a very moving experience as well. As the president mentioned, the five students in the hospital remain in critical condition. Out of respect for the families we will not be releasing the names of the victims in the hospital. We do understand that some of those names have been made public by family and friends, but we feel strongly about not confirming their names out of respect for the families, and we hope you understand. So even though MSU Police and Public Safety is the lead agency in charge of this investigation, the investigation is very complex.

It’s bifurcated and involves many different agencies. Different parts of that investigation are being handled by different agencies in a very unified and coordinated effort. That unified cooperation between all of the agencies involved and the resources that have been deployed to campus from all over the country is impressive. I’ll share a few brief updates regarding the investigation and some of our partners that are here today will elaborate on some of these details as well. We can confirm that the shooter had two handguns on his person when he was located. Those handguns are both nine millimeter. He also had additional magazines and ammunition on his person. Our investigative team did work with our federal ATF partners to trace those weapons, and we have learned that they were purchased legally by the shooter, but they were not registered. We can also confirm that a note was found on the shooter and the location that the shooter was located was roughly 3.8 miles northwest of campus.

Deputy Chief Rosman (17:02):

As I said, the Michigan State Police is here today and they will share additional information about that shooting scene. We want to thank all of our local, county, state, and federal partners for all of their assistance that they’ve provided throughout this investigation. The investigative assistance that we’ve received after the initial incident has been absolutely overwhelming as well. As the interim president said, we’d also like to thank the media for being active partners throughout this investigation. Your ability to share our information while understanding the sensitive nature and having compassion for the families is very much appreciated. At this time, I’m going to turn it over to Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez from the Michigan State Police. We will be available for questions at the end.


Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (18:04):

Thank you, Deputy Chief Rosman.

Information I’m going to give out as dealing with the contact that LPD, MSP, and our state security officers had contact with the shooter at Lake Lansing and Larch Road. Our detectives responded to Lake Lansing Road and Larch Street where a subject matching the MSU’S shooting suspect, Anthony McRae, was observed walking. What had happened is the LPD officers received a call that subject matching that description was walking down the street, and this was on Lake Lansing Road near Larch Street, city of Lansing. Officers made contact. Two LPD officers made contact with the shooter, approximately 20 feet from McRae. They exited their vehicle, ordered him to show his hands, however, he produced a weapon and then killed himself.

It does appear from the body-worn camera that McRae did not verbalize anything to the officers prior to him shooting himself or taking his own life. Once they had waited for two additional state security officers to arrive on scene, they walked up to the shooter who was laying on the ground, cleared the scene for their safety, and then started lifesaving efforts on him, however, he was declared deceased at the scene. After that, two other state troopers also showed up on scene.

Our detectives arrived on scene. They conducted interviews with the officers on scene, photographed the area, downloaded body-worn cameras, in-car videos, and did round counts for all the officers to ensure that no rounds were fired. On scene again were two troopers, two capital security officers, two Lansing Township PD officers and also two LPD officers.

A search was done, after the scene was secure, of McRae’s residence with a search warrant that was authored by MSU PD along with LPD. At the residence, a cell phone was collected, journals of sorts, miscellaneous writings and fired nine millimeter casings. McRae’s father was also interviewed at on scene by the MSP detectives at the Lansing operations building. Once the search of the residence was completed, detectives began a surveillance canvas to attempt to track the shooter once he cleared the MSU campus until he made contact with the LPD officers. They were able to track his journey from the MSU campus to where he was made contact. They are conducting additional surveillance canvases to see if we can find anything else on where he might have been.

Detectives are also assisting with downloading information from McRae’s phone, following up on [inaudible 00:21:14], as two additional bus tickets were found in his possession. Found on McRae were two handguns, the one he shot himself with and another in his backpack that he was carrying. He also had a loaded magazine that was full to capacity in his left breast pocket. In the backpack, he had eight loaded magazines of nine millimeter ammunition along with a pencil sized pouch containing 50 rounds of loose nine millimeter ammunition. He also had two empty magazines on his person as well. Two pages of notes were found in his wallet, which was on his person as well. That was the note that indicated where he was going to visit and also kind of gave an indication of why, maybe emotive, but nothing that we can actually confirm just yet. The investigation is ongoing, and at this time, we believe that there were no other subjects involved and McRae was the loan shooter in this incident. I will now turn it over to Chief Solsby.

Chief Ellery Solsby (22:25):

Thank you, Lieutenant. Good morning everybody. My name is Ellery Solsby. I’m the Chief of police in Lansing. I’m going to start by saying that the Lansing Police Department, through Mayor Schor’s office, is assisting in this investigation as much as possible to make sure that we have complete closure in this incident.

I want to start by giving my condolences to the family of the victims of this tragic incident. Being a father of a son who is recently accepted to this great university, I can’t even imagine the pain that the families are feeling right now.

I want to thank the officers who responded without pause to this critical incident. Many of those, as has been mentioned before, were off duty and dropped everything they were doing to come assist to make sure that there were no more losses of life and to prevent this tragedy from getting any larger. I want to thank the citizens who, along with the media’s help, saw something and said something. Without them, we may not be in this position here today.

I’d like to clear up just a few things, a few topics of misinformation, that we have been asked about, about either the accused McRae or the address, the Lansing address, on Howell Street in the city of Lansing. LPD has not responded to any welfare checks for Anthony McRae. There was a welfare check at the address on Howell Street on February 5th, but was not related to the accused. And LPD has not been called in any way to any shots fired at this address. The call history for the accused in this situation is very limited, but I will share this with you now to hopefully avoid any questions in the future. Starting back in 2005, McRae was contacted for a larceny complaint by the Lansing Police Department, 2006, a traffic violation, 2007, a traffic violation, 2007 again, another traffic violation, and in 2019, he was arrested by the Lansing Police Department for a CCW, which is a carry and concealed weapon, which he was arrested for, and for that case, that weapon is still in Lansing Police Department custody.

As the lieutenant shared, two Lansing police officers made contact with the accused in approximately the 800 block of Lake Lansing Road. When the accused was contacted, he produced a handgun and ended his own life. I cannot commend the officers enough for their actions, and I’ll be open for questions here at the end, but for now, I’m going to turn it over to FBI Special Agent in Charge, James Roska.

FBI Agent James Roska (25:23):

Good morning. I will start off by thanking the press as well. Over the last few days, I’ve gotten to know quite a few of you as we just talk offline and actually socialize while this event continues. So Paul You, thank you. You’ve been very supportive and I appreciate that. [inaudible 00:25:43]. So today at Berkey Hall, we’ll continue meeting with students and staff to return their personal items that were left behind. So that process essentially will begin at 10:00, and the students can show up, they will meet with our victim specialists and agents. And not only will they be able to get their items back, they’ll be able to meet with our victim specialists for mental health support, not just FBI, and we’ve flown victim specialists in from around the country, MSU has provided victim services as well. Victim specialists are there to meet with the students. The US Attorney’s Office, Western District of Michigan, is represented. HSI is also represented. So we have a great cadre of mental health professionals there to support the students. We did the same at Union yesterday. I would consider it a success in that the students did want to sit with our folks and talk.

Along those lines, I want to thank the community, especially those who brought comfort dogs yesterday. It went a long way. It meant a lot to the students and our folks as well. The comfort dogs, they bring a lot, so thank you to everybody that took the time to do that.

The property that will return to them, essentially, it’s a pretty easy process. They’ll identify what’s theirs, we’ll return it. For those students that don’t want to be there, don’t want to go in that building, that’s fine. Just understand you don’t have to do that. We will get your property to you. You can come, not go in the building, talk to our folks and they’ll get it to you. Or after today, everything that’s left over, everything that remains that hasn’t been collected, will be turned over to MSU Police Department so they can coordinate and facilitate getting those items back to you.

Yesterday, about 80% of the students’ and staffs’ items were returned. We were left, I believe, the number is about 18 students that did not pick up their things for certain reasons, whether they couldn’t make it or just didn’t want to. We have those items today at Berkey. So for those students that didn’t make it yesterday, they can go to Berkey. And again, after today, they can reach out directly to MSU as we start to wrap up. Again, the community outpouring has been amazing through food and just thank yous and handshakes, and that’s very, very much appreciated. Goes a long way with all our folks and the whole community here.

I do want to thank Governor Whitmer and Congresswoman Slotkin for their ongoing support. They’ve been, obviously, extremely supportive. They were here at the press conference the other day. And the Congresswoman is, I believe, going to do a site visit today to meet with our folks and the students as well, so we look forward to hosting her.

Even after today, the FBI will continue supporting the families of Alex, Ariel, and Brian. It doesn’t stop today. Those services we provide, the support we provide, will continue. We’ve met with those families and we’ve began to build a relationship with them, so we will be there for them along with all our partners. They have our full support. For the students that remain in the hospital, same thing. They will have the full support of all of the FBI and all the partners here.

I just want to mention that a number for the United Way for additional mental health support, for anybody listening that would like to utilize that, 2-1-1. If you dial 2-1-1, you can get support. So that’s just another outlet. There’s a lot of resources, so please, for everybody, the students, faculty, the community, there’s plenty of resources to help you and help the community recover.

So with that, Doctor, I’ll turn it over to you. Thank you.

Doctor Rema Vassar (29:39):

Good morning. My name is Doctor Rema Vassar. I’m the chair at MSU for the board of trustees, and I come to you today as both the chair and a mother of a Spartan who was on campus the day that the shooter came and took so much from us, but also took our sense of safety. I have this dual role as I’m going through this with the Spartan community, and it’s an identity that allows me to see a lot of empathy in people and a lot of grace, and I’m so grateful to the community who has been supportive in ways that we just couldn’t imagine.

That evening, my daughter called and she joked, and later today she said, “That’s the first time you ever answered my call that fast.” Generally, she calls for money, so she might not get me on the first ring. But I answered right away and she said, “That’s when I knew it was real.” She sheltered in place in a bathroom for three hours waiting for this to end. And as I’m taking the updates from campus, I’m also fielding her calls, my family’s calls, who are all trying to figure out is she okay? Am I okay? Is everyone okay?

I want to commend Chief Lynch. You have organized and coordinated services in ways that I didn’t imagine. All these folks coming together to make sure that our Spartan community feels safe has been enlightening in so many ways, but also just reassuring. Even last night at the vigil, my daughter had not been on campus since Monday, but I convinced her to come. Immediately when I got on the stairs, she started to text me, “Ma, I don’t feel safe. I want you to get down. There are people who are kneeling. I’m not sure what’s happening.” And so I texted her to get to the chief. “Do you know him? Get next to him. You’ll be safe.” I know people took exception to that text. I don’t know what you would have done if that were your daughter.

I want us to give the grace that’s necessary. We all are going to be healing in different ways, in different paces. I’m one of those mothers who’s like, tough it up. You scraped your knee. You want peroxide or alcohol? I’m one of those moms. But I’m giving my daughter, who is a kind, low-key, cool kid, a lot of grace, and I want that grace extended to all students, all staff and all faculty.

The board has gone to talk with Ariel’s parents, Alexandria’s parents, Brian’s parents. Heart-wrenching discussions. Our hearts go out to them. We have offered all our services to them. We also went to Sparrow to meet with the families whose children are fighting for their lives right now today, and it was amazing how gracious they were. They’re asking how we’re doing. I mean, just the Sparrow community has been absolutely amazing, that was the quote from one of the fathers, and so I’m grateful to them for their service to these families.

This is a hard time, a tough time, but we’re going to get through it. In the coming days, the board will continue to meet with the administration, will continue to get updates from Chief Lynch around what has happened, debriefing what we know to be true, what could be different going forward. And we also are meeting with faculty, staff, and students around their issues of safety and where they felt the safest and why, and how we can

Doctor Rema Vassar (34:00):

We can recreate those kinds of places all around campus. The board is committed to making sure that we are united on the other end of this and that Spartans from all over the globe can come to this campus and feel like they will be safe. We will not have our safety and security stolen by a man with a gun in this senseless act of violence. It will not happen. I will open it up to questions and turn it back over to the FBI.

Deputy Chief Rosman (34:35):

And I tell you what, before we open it up for questions, I do just want to highlight that again, this investigation that’s ongoing is so massively complex that you may have questions that we know the answer to. The folks up here today just might not have that information, so please be patient with us. We will do our best to answer all of your questions. We have remained committed to being transparent and sharing as much information from the very beginning, and that remains please understand that, as we move forward, there’s so many questions that you have. We may have to get that answer and get back to you. So with that, I’ll open it up to questions for any of the speakers that are here today. So in the back. Go ahead.

Speaker 1 (35:19):

Good morning. Thank you for sharing these updates with us. Adrienne Broaddus from CNN, also a 2006 graduate. First question, what’s on your heart today?

Marlon Lynch (35:38):

We are a resolute community. What’s on my heart is what is my task that I accepted almost two years ago to return to my alma mater, and I questioned what attracts me besides my love for MSU. I know why I’m here today. I know why I’m here today. To help. To help be a part of what we have in existence here as a community and what we have in our partnerships. These relationships are not new. These have been in place for years and the amazing thing is that I’m an alum. Chris is an alum, Ellery’s an alum, the sheriff’s and the alum, the Chief in Meridian Township is in alum. We could go on and on with that. We are truly invested in what we have here and we’re going to keep it, but it opens discussions for how we proceed and how we create that environment. It’s just not up to us. We’re going to have discussions with our community and this is a societal challenge as well.

Speaker 1 (36:52):

And real quickly, if you’re able to share some of the businesses, for example, the church, the warehouse that was listed in his note, did he have ties to the places that were named in the note?

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (37:14):

Reference the note with the listing of the businesses through our investigation, we found that he had had contact with some of those places. He was an employee of the Meyer warehouse at one time, and a couple other businesses, it appears that he had had some issues with the employees there where he was asked to leave. So it looks like possibly a motive for that was he just felt slighted and that’s kind of what the note indicated.

Speaker 2 (37:42):

The surveillance image obviously proved pretty important for capturing Mr. McRae, locating him. But why did it take three hours to get that out? Do you have real time monitoring of cameras on campus? What was the process of actually going through that?

Deputy Chief Rosman (37:59):

Yeah, that’s a good question. We have thousands of cameras on this campus. We’ve worked recently to enhance that even further. That system is complex and our investigators immediately began reviewing surveillance footage. It did take them a little bit of time to locate that due to the number and the volume of cameras that we have. And we didn’t know what his path was at that point. We didn’t know which door he exited. We didn’t know which route he took. We didn’t know where he went after he left those buildings. When our officers arrived on scene at both of those locations, he had already left the building. We didn’t know by which direction, which door, and so we immediately began reviewing surveillance footage. As soon as we located that image, we immediately pushed it out. Immediately pushed it out on social media.

My understanding is that the caller actually saw it on one of the news stations and so we’ve already said this, but we can’t thank our partners enough for amplifying that. And then 17 minutes later we received the phone call through our dispatch center that he was seen. So while I know the timing, people may question the timing, this was an ongoing complex incident and it took a little bit of time to find that image but we worked valiantly and I commend our investigators that set their rifles down and turned around and started looking at video on the computer to locate those images.

Speaker 2 (39:36):

Do you have real time capability right now though? Monitors?

Deputy Chief Rosman (39:39):

Yeah, I’ll let the Chief…

Marlon Lynch (39:42):

Part of our overall strategic plan is we are currently in a process of centralizing all security systems that will accompany or will come with real time monitoring, which is what you’re speaking of, is when an example would be in a situation like that, the location would be identified, the operator would know that that particular location has X number of cameras and began automatically pulling the cameras up to help with the overall response for that. That’s something that’s in development. That was an initiative that we announced in the fall with that and that’s currently underway with that.

Speaker 3 (40:19):

I want to go back to the state police on the letter if we may? A couple things. I just want to make sure I understand correctly. You confirmed that the letter said, “Hi, my name is Anthony McRae,” and later said, “I will be shooting up MSU.” Can you confirm that?

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (40:33):

That I can’t confirm. I have only gotten some information from the letter, however, I’ve not read the letter so I’m not sure exactly what that says so I can’t confirm nor deny that that was on there.

Speaker 3 (40:42):

So businesses were threatened, a church was threatened, and then a school district in New Jersey as well, correct?

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (40:49):

That’s true.

Speaker 3 (40:50):

And you mentioned the connections potentially between the businesses and can you say anything about a connection to the church and also what the connection to the school district in Ewing, New Jersey was? I know there’s talk about having been part of that community, but specifically the school district.

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (41:03):

The school district can’t comment on why he was threatening that specific school district. We just know that he did have some connections to New Jersey, but that was years ago, so I’m not sure why he was bringing that up so late in the game.

Speaker 3 (41:16):

And the church.

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (41:17):

The church, I have no information on that as well.

Speaker 3 (41:19):

Okay. And then he also in this letter, correct me if I’m wrong, claimed to be the leader of 20 killers. Is that right?

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (41:24):

That’s true, yes.

Speaker 3 (41:25):

Can you give us a sense of how you were able to invalidate that claim if you have found that to be unsubstantiated? Because obviously, once the suspect’s body was found and all clear was given on the campus, so can you just give us an idea of how that was found to be unsubstantiated?

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (41:42):

Yes. Through in our interviews with the shooter’s father, we brought that up to him and he had mentioned that his son does not have any friends. He pretty much sat in his room most of the time. He ate, went to the bathroom in there. So he pretty much never left his room and his father didn’t believe that he had any friends, let alone 20 of them that would help him put this out so we kind of determined that he was the lone shooter in this.

Speaker 3 (42:07):

And is all of that done before the all clear was given on campus?

Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez (42:11):

Yes. Yeah, well actually yes, that’s something I’d have to let Deputy Chief Rozman answer to as far as when the all clear was given, but just what we did with our investigation on our end.

Speaker 3 (42:20):

So then just if you just follow up on that, obviously a lot of students, a lot of families are going to be learning about these revelations. What can you tell us about the timeline of getting those claims, disproving them, and where alerting families went into that it was all clear?

Deputy Chief Rosman (42:35):

Sure. And I would point out that it’s easy to, in hindsight, look at this was happening very rapidly. What I will say is at the time that that information was received, that the note was found in his pocket, we had already established not only a unified command post in the field, but we had activated our emergency operations center and information was being shared live time between the unified command post, our emergency operations center operating under our instant command system, and so that’s the reason that we were able to get information so quick from the scene where the shooter was found, the note in his pocket, and relay that information live time to the people like myself that were making decisions on what information was accurate to communicate with the public. And at the time, we had to make a decision whether we believed that the statement about there being 20 people involved was credible based on the information that we had at the time. And I stand by that and we continue to stand by that.

We do not believe that to be accurate and that’s why we did what we did. So thank you for the question. I’m going to go to somebody else here.

Speaker 3 (43:43):

I just want to clarify on the timeline on this, because your department put out a tweet at 12:28 a.m. saying there was no longer a threat to campus. So at that time, when that tweet is put out, your department has already been made aware of the claim of 20 other shooters and has already disproved or looked into them.

Deputy Chief Rosman (43:59):

We had already received information from the scene, very detailed information from the scene, and we processed that information and made that decision. Yes, that’s the answer. Hold on, hold on. In the back, right there. News Time.

Speaker 4 (44:13):

Yeah. Quick question for Chief Sosebee and the President too, so to speak. Will you be releasing the body camera video from the Large and Cedar Street, like you have previous investigations that are going on?

Chief Ellery Sosebee (44:26):

When we are involved in a situation like this, our policy and procedure is to release the video. However, this investigation is being conducted by the Michigan State Police and campus police. So we’ll leave that determination up to them as to when that body camera.

Speaker 4 (44:38):

Because you’ve done it with a couple officer involved shootings while state police are still doing their investigation.

Chief Ellery Sosebee (44:44):

Yes, that’s true. And in cases that we do do that, we are in full cooperation with the investigating agencies in this case.

Speaker 4 (44:51):

And then for the President, real quick, Berkey Hall is closed for the rest of the semester. The Union’s close for now. What happens after that? Are you able to go through a remodel like Oxford did? Are they going to be completely torn down and rebuilt like Sandy Hook or what’s the process?

President Teresa Woodruff (45:08):

Our leadership group is meeting and we’re making determinations on the disposition of each of the buildings in real time so I don’t have an answer for that at this point.

Speaker 5 (45:18):

Question for Chief Lynch.

Deputy Chief Rosman (45:20):

I know there’s a lot of questions. We’re going to do our best to get to all of them. So in the back in the suit and tie. I’m sorry, suit and tie right behind. Yep, go ahead.

Speaker 9 (45:30):

Any reaction on the fact that McRae because of that plea deal in 2019 in the Lansing case was he able to purchase these two handguns? And to follow up on that, we were going around that he had been turned down for a job at MSU and that could have been a possible motive. Can you comment on both?

Deputy Chief Rosman (45:49):

I’ll address the second question first and I’ll see if anybody wants to take the first. That is part of the investigation in terms of his connection to MSU. We can find no connection to MSU at this time. He was not a current student, faculty, staff, or a former student, faculty, staff. We are aware of that claim as well. We are investigating it, and I don’t have an answer for you right now, but it will be reviewed as part of our investigation.

Chief Ellery Sosebee (46:17):

I will address the charge. Eric, ask the question. Can you ask it again please?

Speaker 5 (46:20):


Chief Ellery Sosebee (46:20):

So I’m clear.

Speaker 5 (46:21):

In reaction to the fact of the 2019 case that your police department handled was pled down by the then prosecutor. The way it was pled down, allowed him to buy these two handguns that were on him Monday night, Tuesday morning?

Chief Ellery Sosebee (46:37):

Yes. My understanding is that, in that case, a motion was made by the defense and then before that motion was pushed through to a decision that the then prosecutor of Ingham County, chose to drop that charge and negotiate down to a lesser crime, which gave him no jail time, no felony charge, prohibit him from buying additional weapons in the future, and a year of probation. But that prosecutor’s no longer in Ingham County.

Speaker 5 (47:05):

Should that have been allowed?

Chief Ellery Sosebee (47:06):

Pardon me?

Speaker 5 (47:07):

Should the prosecutor had some more hindsight to, I believe, plea deals are happening all the time, but…

Chief Ellery Sosebee (47:16):

We would all hope that a prosecutor would uphold the law as it’s written. There’s always room for some type of discrepancy or discretion. However, that one will be scrutinized for a long time, I’m sure.

Speaker 1 (47:33):

Do we know that he bought the gun? I thought you guys just said purchased legally. Can you confirm that?

Deputy Chief Rosman (47:38):

He did purchase the gun legally. He was allowed to purchase the gun. There was nothing in place to prohibit him from purchasing a firearm. Right here. Go ahead.

Speaker 6 (47:50):

When New Jersey police brought out the statement about the school closures, they indicated that Mr. McRae had a history of mental health issues. Are you guys looking into that? What have you discovered so far in relation to that?

Deputy Chief Rosman (48:03):

I think that’s something that obviously we’re going to look at. Obviously, in hindsight, judging what mental illness somebody has is very difficult without some type of formal diagnosis. Obviously, in this case, there appears to be indications that may be the case. It’s going to be difficult to confirm that, but I think that’s a question that we have as well is if he did have any mental illness and did it play into this particular incident? And we’ll be looking at that comprehensively as part of our investigation. Right here.

Speaker 7 (48:39):

Can you share possibly how close you are to his motive? Anything about his motive that you can share with us?

Deputy Chief Rosman (48:48):

Yeah, again, like Lieutenant Gonzalez said, that’s a difficult question and we’ve said that from the beginning. It appears, based on the content of the note, that he felt that he was slighted in some way by people or businesses. Did a mental health issue amplify that or was it a component of that? We’re not sure at this point. I just want to assure everybody that that’s the question on all of our minds and we’re working our best to try to determine that as best as possible. And we’ve committed to sharing accurate information and I don’t have an accurate answer for you right now other than to say that we continue to look at that and attempt to determine the actual motive.

Speaker 8 (49:32):

And was he a member of the church?

Deputy Chief Rosman (49:35):

I don’t have that information. So right here.

Speaker 8 (49:37):

Yeah. For Chief Lynch. Police reported a lot of misinformation and false reports coming in Monday night. Some of that information was broadcasted on the scanner, which we know a lot of students were listening to in real time. Do you think that contributed to the panic on campus?

Marlon Lynch (49:52):

Most definitely. Misinformation is its self defined by how it’s stated, right? And if that’s what’s going on, what else do you have to believe? If you’re actively listening to a scanner, that’s why we were communicating in the manner that we were. Please utilize us as your source for information with that.

Speaker 8 (50:15):

So related to that, there’s a couple of points that reports that turned out to be false. So of a shooting at IM East or of someone actively shooting as late as 11:30 p.m. Did those false reports you were getting make your job more difficult and how did you determine what to put out on Twitter or send out an alert?

Marlon Lynch (50:34):

So those were reports received through dispatch that is then coming to us. The way that the coordinated operation, how we set up, is that there were teams assigned to buildings and then we had response teams that were set up to respond to calls. We operate on trying to verify and go from there. And so when we receive calls like that, if that’s what

Marlon Lynch (51:00):

… What you here on the scanner and that’s how we’re being dispatched. We’re sending officers to that location. Those officers get there, they get to IMEs. No signs of shooting, not hearing anything. That’s the response.

Speaker 10 (51:12):

But so how is it decided to put something out on Twitter or make an alert?

Marlon Lynch (51:15):

Well, we know that there is a scanner that people may be accessing, so when we have the opportunity to verify or to confirm that it’s not true, then we do that. That’s part of the overall decision making process with that. What is the value of doing that at that particular time?

Speaker 10 (51:32):

Putting out 11:30 that there was someone actively shooting is what that alert said. Could you talk about the decision making for that one?

Marlon Lynch (51:41):

It would’ve been based on what information that was used at that time to have that decision with that. It’s all real time. It’s very nimble with that, and that’s why we should be the source of information.

Speaker 11 (51:52):

The professor who led the classroom where the shooting started in Berkey Hall said that there was no way that he knew of to lock the classroom from the inside. Is that the case in classrooms across campus, and is that best practice to not have a locking mechanism? Most K-12 schools, for instance, in these instances, have a mechanism for teachers to lock the classroom doors.

Marlon Lynch (52:15):

I’m not familiar with the statistical information for K-12, but would be the fact is that we have 400 buildings as opposed to maybe one or six with that. The sizes are definitely going to vary with that. Our practice currently is to not outfit each and every classroom with mechanisms like that. There are a couple of reasons why or why not to. That’s in a discussion in itself on the advantages, the pros and cons, with that. However, those components, these coming days and discussions we’re going to have with our community, is to, we’re not going … We’ll lead the discussions, but we’ll present options, and as a community we’ll decide on how we proceed with different physical security, police officer presence, potentially security officer presence, additional security systems. All of those will become part of it with that. But today that is not how we are set up in all of our classrooms with that.

Speaker 12 (53:12):

Chief, you mentioned that students rendered aid to each other. We are hearing reports that possibly one of the students killed acted heroically and tried to take the shooter down. Can you verify those reports? I know it is still very early in the investigation.

Marlon Lynch (53:31):

I couldn’t speak specifically to that action with that. Lots of information being fielded at this time. What I shared at the beginning of this press conference was what was shared directly with me by individuals involved with that. I, again, wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, but at this time I just couldn’t confirm that that actually took place.

Speaker 12 (53:57):

A very quick follow up. I know that you mentioned you were not going to be identifying the five students who are still in the hospital. Are you able to confirm that two of them are exchange students from China? Is that something that you can speak to?

Marlon Lynch (54:10):

No, not at this particular time. We do know that we do have some international students, but couldn’t confirm at this time where their home country is.

Speaker 12 (54:20):

Excuse me.

Deputy Chief Rosman (54:21):

Let’s go in the back here, over on the left.

Speaker 13 (54:24):

I just wanted to, maybe this is for MSP. You said that you were able to complete his journey from campus to this site where he shot himself. He had all this ammunition that leads you to believe he had plans to do more. Was there any point in there where did he seem in a hurry? Did he stop at other places and contemplate doing something? Or was he calmly walking home?

Speaker 14 (54:45):

It looked like from looking at the video that we did have portions of, that he was just walking home. Where his ending spot at Lake Lansing and Larch was just around the corner from his house on how on Howell Street. So it appears that he was just heading home.

Speaker 13 (55:00):

Was the church or the warehouse anywhere in the area? Did it seem like that was in the direction where he was going?

Speaker 14 (55:06):

No, it appeared to us that he was heading home when someone just spotted him from the picture we put out on him.

Speaker 12 (55:15):

Neighbors have said that they …

Deputy Chief Rosman (55:16):

Hold on.

Speaker 12 (55:16):

… Called the cops about hearing shootings at the father’s house. Were those not responded to?

Deputy Chief Rosman (55:22):

If you don’t mind, is everybody okay if I call on people? Is that okay? I appreciate it. I’m just trying to keep things a tad bit orderly. It’s okay, I’ll come back to you though. Right here, ma’am in the black vest.

President Woodruff (55:32):

Yep. I have a question for the president. What do you have to say to students and future students who say that this shooting, the university is tarnished by the shooting?

Speaker 15 (55:40):

I believe we are a strong community and we will not allow a single individual to take our university from us. And we heard that loud and clear from many of our students. We are still processing, but this is our home. This is our university.

Deputy Chief Rosman (55:57):

Now brown jacket, right here.

Speaker 16 (55:59):

Were the two handguns purchased after the arrest in 2019. And do you know, or can you clarify where they were purchased?

Deputy Chief Rosman (56:05):

I don’t know if we have that information. I don’t think we’re prepared with that information right now. We may be able to share that in the future. We just don’t have it right now. So in the back, go ahead.

Speaker 12 (56:17):

Yeah. Okay. Sorry about that. Yes, just multiple neighbors have said that they did call the police about issues of hearing gunshots at the father’s house. Were those not responded to? Were the neighbors not accurate on that?

Chief Ellery Sosebee (56:29):

What the information that we have is that those are not accurate. We checked all our call logs along with our dispatch logs and we have not received, the Lansing Police Department, has not received any calls for any shots fired at that residence.

Deputy Chief Rosman (56:42):

Right here.

Speaker 17 (56:43):

Thank you. For the present Woodruff. Thank you. I talked to two students who have been distributing a petition with about 11,000 signatures for some sort of Zoom or online option rest this semester. It’s similar to what’s offered at Oxford High School. Has there been a discussion about in the administration?

President Woodruff (56:58):

Yes, we’ve discussed that and there’s ongoing discussions.

Speaker 17 (57:01):

Do you see that as a possibility for students?

President Woodruff (57:03):

We’re considering all options for the manner in which we continue the continuity of education, research, and outreach on this campus.

Speaker 17 (57:11):

Has there been talk of differentiating for students with classes in the Union and Berkey, or who are in those classes, options different for them for the rest of the student body, or whatever solutions would be for everybody?

President Woodruff (57:20):

Yes, we’ve been talking about places and spaces and where education will continue. And certainly those two buildings are central to some of those conversations.

Speaker 17 (57:30):

Thank you.

President Woodruff (57:30):

Thank you.

Deputy Chief Rosman (57:33):

Go ahead.

Speaker 18 (57:34):

Yeah, there’s been a lot of details today about what was in the note. Can you just clear up what exactly was in the note? I know it was mentioned earlier about a possible why. Can you say what you possibly know about the motive to this point?

Deputy Chief Rosman (57:47):

So again, I really do think we’ve said all we can about what we think the motive might be. I commend and appreciate the Michigan State Police sharing as much information as they have about that note. I really think that’s all we have to share at this point. We’ll continue to evaluate that note from a lot of different angles, a lot of investigative avenues. If we determine anything else, if that note is of any additional value, we may share some more information in the future. But as of today, I think we’ve shared what we can in terms of the content of the note. Let’s do one more question right there. Go ahead, shirt and tie.

Speaker 15 (58:29):

This is for you. I do want to preface that we do want to share those stories of students and officers remembering, but the Chief, Deputy Chief Rozman, you previously mentioned that there was an overwhelming police response. So I need to ask, when McRae was able to exit the MSU Union building and get out of the campus and then be found in the city of Lansing almost four hours away, when we talk about this massive police response, how was this not something that was found? Especially if it sounds like he was walking?

Deputy Chief Rosman (59:01):

Yeah, definitely. Like we’ve talked about already today, the chaos that ensued and the information that we were receiving. Due to the number of reports that we were receiving on campus, we actually at the time thought that he was still on campus. I mean, we had no indication at the time that he left campus. We were receiving and responding to so many calls about potential shots fired or sightings of this person on campus, although we deployed resources off campus, we didn’t receive any calls. We didn’t receive any calls, whether they be valid or not, off campus. As additional law enforcement resources arrived from all over the state of Michigan, from counties away, we started to deploy those resources out, almost if you picture kind of a ring. So if there’s our incident, we have our inner, and then we kind of work our way out in different rings. That’s how we started deploying our resources.

We started with campus. Our goal at the time was to ensure the absolute safety of every student and every person on this campus after the shooting. And that’s where most of the calls were coming from. And that’s what we were really focused on. We had no indication at the time to believe that he was off campus, and especially that far off campus, two, three, four miles.

So working through our unified command post, as resources responded, we started deploying them out further. And when that call did come in, due to that decision, we had resources that were able to quickly respond to that location. I know it’s something that in hindsight can kind of be questioned. How did he get from point A to point B with nobody seeing him, or no law enforcement seeing him. And all I can do is assure you, and the community, and our students, that we were acting on the best information we had at the time, making critical decisions that we still stand by in deploying our resources in the most efficient and effective way possible to ensure the continued safety of campus, which we did.

Speaker 15 (01:01:16):

So even though the calls came out of mainly Berkey and Union, which is west, there was never a surrounding of these buildings where these calls were coming out of. Do you believe, it sounds like you’re saying there was just a sense of hysteria. It’s possible he could have just slipped away.

Deputy Chief Rosman (01:01:30):

Yeah, and I’ll compare it to the Okemos High School shooting, or situation, the hoax situation. When that happened, we all thought that was real. When the additional calls came in that there were additional shooting scenes on campus, we thought those were real initially. We responded like they were real. We reacted like they were real. We sent tactical teams and inserted ourselves into those buildings. And our officers, following their training and their drive, entered those facilities ready to hunt somebody down and take them out and prevent them from ending any other life. And that’s what we did.

It took us a while to determine that some of those were false, were hoax calls. So as we were working through that information, we were actively responding to those scenes in deploying our resources. And it took us a while to determine, you heard it. Everybody here it sounds like was listening to the scanner. I mean, we were listening to the same thing. A lot of those calls sounded real when they went out. We thought they were real, and we responded like they were real, and we were ready to do what we’re trained to do.

Doctor Rema Vassar (01:02:45):

So I do want to say that we all have a lot of questions, particularly me who my daughter was, I was getting live updates about what was happening in real time, and transparency is one of the priorities of the board. So as new information comes, I’m expecting fully that we’ll all be apprised. I did want to add one update. Sparrow has called and let us know that one of our students has moved from critical to stable condition. And so I just want you to continue to pray for those families, pray for the families who will be having services over the next couple of days for their students who have not made it. They sent their students to Michigan State for a quality world class education, and now they are, they’re holding services for them. So just hold a space for them in your hearts and continue to wish the best for those who are still struggling. But that was the good news that we have at least one who has improved.

Deputy Chief Rosman (01:03:52):


Marlon Lynch (01:03:55):

Thank you.

Speaker 14 (01:03:56):

Thank you.

Speaker 12 (01:03:56):

[inaudible 01:04:08] information [inaudible 01:04:09].

Speaker 19 (01:04:12):

Sure, sure. Okay. It is, you want the phone?

Speaker 12 (01:04:12):


Speaker 19 (01:04:12):

Yeah, it is … I’m sorry, I have so many things going on.

Speaker 12 (01:04:12):

It’s all right.

Speaker 19 (01:04:12):

Well I can tell you just fine. One second. 432-3814.

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