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Michigan State University will reopen Monday, a week after mass shooting left 3 students dead

The campus will reopen with academic adjustments and more police on campus, officials said Sunday.
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Michigan State University will reopen Monday, a week after three people were killed and five others were wounded in a mass shooting, with academic adjustments and an increased police presence on campus, university officials said Sunday.

Officials framed the reopening as the beginning of the campus community's healing process, not the end, and said at a news conference that support will remain available to students and faculty members throughout the semester.

"No one thinks that we’re coming back to a normal week — in fact, this semester is not going to be normal," interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko said.

No courses will be held this semester in either of the buildings where the shootings occurred — Berkey Hall, an academic building on the northern edge of the 50,000-student campus, and the MSU Union student center, less than a half mile-west — Jeitschko said. The university has moved 300 classes into other spaces across campus — including empty classrooms and lunchrooms — to accommodate the change, he said.

Professors have been urged to reassess goals for their courses and to "extend grace, sympathy and empathy to their students," who will be able to determine at the end of the semester whether they want to receive credit or grades for undergraduate courses, Jeitschko said.

"We asked that there be no heavy lifts, there be no attempts at making up for lost time or scrambling and doubling down for the rest of the semester," he said of officials' direction to instructors.

Michigan State University students kneel at a memorial in East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State University students kneel at a memorial for the victims of the shooting on campus.Jake May / The Flint Journal via AP

Students who do not want to return to the university should contact the Office of Student Support and Accountability, Jeitschko said.

Many students went home after the shooting Monday night, leaving the campus quiet. Others who remained on campus took comfort in one another and mourned the victims: Alexandria Verner of Clawson, a junior; Brian Fraser of Grosse Pointe, a sophomore; and Arielle Anderson, also of Grosse Pointe.

MSU paying for victims' funerals, hospital bills

MSU paid for the victims' funerals, as well as hospital bills for the injured students, through its Spartan Strong Fund, which has raised more than $250,000 since the shooting, interim President Teresa K. Woodruff said.

Funerals for Fraser and Verner were held Saturday, and Anderson's funeral is scheduled for this week.

As of Sunday, three of the injured students remained in critical condition, police said. One student was in serious condition and another was in fair condition. The wounded students have not been publicly identified.

The Chinese Consulate in Chicago has said two Chinese students were among the injured.

Money raised after the shooting has also been used to pay for counseling and campus safety enhancements, Woodruff added.

For now, that will include more police officers on campus, Chris Rozman, the interim deputy chief of the MSU Police, said Sunday. Additional measures to be determined in the future could include updates to doors, access control on campus and other physical security changes, Rozman said.

People retrieve belongings from Berkey Hall
People retrieve belongings from Berkey Hall on Thursday. Scott Olson / Getty Images

"We want to make sure anything we consider is appropriately vetted and considered and focuses on long-term comprehensive solutions and not just short-term solutions," Rozman said.

The buildings the shooter entered had been unlocked and “open to the public,” Rozman has said.

Counselors and therapy dogs from across the state and that country have been available to facilitate students' and faculty members' long-term healing, said Assistant Provost Alexis Travis, the university’s executive director of health and wellbeing.

Officials said they hoped the return to campus would also aid in the school community's recovery.

“We also know that being in community is very important — being able to meet with your friends and meet with colleagues to talk about things is very important,” said Vennie Gore, the senior vice president for student life and engagement.

A person holds flowers during a vigil on the campus of Michigan State University
A person holds flowers at a vigil at Michigan State University.Scott Olson / Getty Images

“We want to reclaim our community. We want to reclaim our campus,” he added.

Jo Kovach, the student body president, said students are "scared, but absolutely ready to do what they can to make changes,” adding that students have been involved in organizing protests and sharing information on resources to support their peers' healing.

Woodruff, the president, added: "We're a community that is strong, not as a reaction but as a statement of purpose and principal."

Motive remains unknown

The shooting suspect was identified as Anthony Dwayne McRae, 43, who was not affiliated with MSU and who died by suicide as police were closing in on him in the adjacent city of Lansing, Rozman said.

He was found with two legally purchased guns, ammunition and a note threatening violence against businesses, a church and a school district in New Jersey, officials have said. The guns were not registered, according to an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said a 2019 misdemeanor conviction for possession of a loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle left the suspect ineligible to have a gun, making it unclear how he obtained the weapons used in the shooting.

Authorities have said the motive remains unknown. Officials have acknowledged that the suspect had a history of mental health issues, which is part of their investigation.

The FBI and campus police asked that anyone with information submit it via an online form.

The suspect’s father, Michael McRae, has said his son became “evil and mean” and a loner after his mother, Linda McRae, died of a stroke in September 2020, but he said his son did not have a history of violence.