Shooter at Michigan State who killed three had no ties to school, officials say | Michigan

The man who stormed on to Michigan State University’s campus and shot three students to death before killing himself bought the ammunition fired during the attack only a few hours earlier, investigators announced on Thursday.

Additionally, authorities said, the murderer had no personal or professional connection to the school, making his motive a mystery to them, despite his leaving a note which – among other things – complained about feeling rejected and not having sex during the last decade.

Such details were contained in a statement from the police force at the university in East Lansing, Michigan, summarizing what officers have learned about 43-year-old Anthony McRae since he went on campus and killed students Arielle Anderson, Alexandria Verner and Brian Fraser.

The killer loaded at least 13 handgun magazines with 9mm ammunition that he bought shortly before 4.50pm on 13 February. He put one magazine each in two handguns that he bought legally a month apart around the fall of 2021 but never registered, the police’s statement said. He used a Michigan identification as well as a social security card for the purchases, which he could make lawfully once he was discharged from a probation stint that he served after pleading guilty in 2020 to a misdemeanor weapons charge.

In part illustrating how much devastation a gun-wielding intruder can inflict even when not armed with a rifle, officers concluded that McRae fired about 20 times while murdering Anderson, Varner and Fraser as well as critically wounding five others at two separate buildings once he entered Michigan State’s campus at about 8.20pm. He left campus and eluded police until about 11.50pm, when officers found him in the adjacent city of Lansing, minutes after they publicly released a surveillance photo of him and asked for help in tracking him down.

McRae shot himself as police approached and died by suicide, according to authorities, who used spent shell casings to determine how many shots the killer fired. He had a backpack with 10 loaded magazines and nearly 140 rounds of loose ammunition, along with a total of more than 20 rounds in the magazines in his pistols as well as a magazine in his coat’s chest pocket.

Officers found a handwritten note on McRae which was headlined “Why? Why? Why? I’ve been hurt,” according to a copy of the screed that was released in the police’s statement on Thursday. The note claimed that McRae staged the attack in coordination with others, but state and federal investigators have not found any evidence to suggest that was true.

The note also mentioned fatigue at “being rejected” and complained about not having had sex in 10 years. It doesn’t explicitly describe McRae as a believer of the misogynist involuntary celibate – or “incel” – movement, which is primarily online and blames women for proponents’ lack of sexual and social status.

But the rhetoric in the parts of the note certainly calls to mind the movement, which experts have linked to dozens of killings and less lethal attacks in the last decade, including the stabbing and shooting rampage that left six people dead in Santa Barbara, California, in 2014.

Investigators were also careful to note that McRae had not attended Michigan State, had not known anyone at the campus and had not applied to work there in recent history. A relative later told CNN that McRae toward the end of his life had been living either at his father’s home or in local shelters for the unhoused.

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“There is no conclusive motive as to why McRae targeted Michigan State University,” the statement from the school’s police force said.

The murders carried out by McRae came weeks before an intruder with two rifles and a handgun shot three nine-year-old students and three adult staffers to death at a Christian grade school in Nashville, Tennessee, on 27 March. Police shot dead the intruder in that case.

As of Thursday, the killings at Michigan State and Nashville’s Covenant school were among more than 170 mass shootings so far this year in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The archive defines a mass shooting as any with four or more victims who are killed or wounded, not including the shooter.

The spate of mass shootings has reignited calls in some quarters for Congress to pass legislation aimed at holding firearms manufacturers liable for violence committed with their products as well as to require background checks for gun-related sales, among other measures.

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