It’s 2:34am. Approximately 6 hours after reports of gunshots spread like wildfire through the Michigan State University community. I was woken up from my nap around 8:30pm to sirens on street. This is typical occurrence as living on a main road creates much noise from easily heard emergency vehicles. Frustrated that I was woken up, I grabbed my phone, and an Emergency Message suddenly popped up on my screen. It stated “MSU Police report shots fired incident occurring on or near the East Lansing campus. Secure-in-place immediately. Run, hide, fight.” Living less than 100 feet from campus, on the other side of Grand River, you could hear the sirens blaring from every direction. The reality started to kick in. Not only was I worried for all of my friends that live on and off campus, but I’m apart of an organization that has over 80 scholars in it and who knew where everyone was at the time. Was everyone safe? I began receiving calls and texts from people left and right, wondering if I was safe. I was safe, but I wasn’t thinking about myself, I was thinking about others and the panic they must be experiencing. I was thinking about how if just a few hours earlier it had happened then I would’ve been wondering campus mindlessly as I always do, with my soundproof headphones on, just trying to get to where I need to be. I would not have known what to do in that situation.
Me and a few fellow scholars turned on the police scanner and were following the dispatches being made to officers on campus. Reports of screaming, gunshots, and suspicious activity were coming across non-stop as police officers, the SWAT, the FBI, and the National Guard were going building to building clearing each one individually. As well as helicopters flying above. To put things into perspective, Michigan State University is home to nearly 50,000 students, in addition to 8.1 sq. miles of land. That is a lot of ground to cover in terms of the finding the suspect(s) as calls were coming in from opposite sides of campus within minutes of each other. We were all scared that there was more than 1 shooter. We all BELIEVED that there was more than one shooter. It was not too long after that that our situation became national news on CNN. We watched on tv as our University (just across the street) was lit up like a Christmas tree with first responder vehicles lining the streets throughout our campus.
This continued on until a little past midnight when the police announced that the suspect was deceased due to a self-inflicted gun wound. Although the suspect was no longer a threat to our community, we still believed that the fight wasn’t over. If you know me, you know that I generally have a pretty calm demeanor. However, only 3 hours after the secure-in-place was lifted, I am just now starting to process what happened and the outcomes on what life at Michigan State will be like in the future. Currently, 3 Spartans have lost their lives for simply just existing. During this whole ordeal, it felt like what was going on wasn’t real. You always see it on tv and you’re sadden by why it even happened in the first place, but now it’s happening in your community and the place you walk around everyday, and it just doesn’t feel real.
As I lay in my bed with the lights on, typing this message, I can’t figure out whether I want to cry about what happened or to be angry. Why does this keep happening? Day after day, more and more mass shootings occur and to no avail, nothing is done in our society to stop these from happening. When will it stop? This problem goes beyond school shootings, but targeted and biased ones as well. Shootings that occur from discrimination of race, religion, sexuality, and ethnicity too.
As I talked to all of the scholars individually after the secure-in-place was lifted, many of them told me that they had intentions to go the Union earlier to get some food (the 2nd location that the shooting occurred). One scholar had actually just gotten off work in the Union cafeteria. While several others, were scattered throughout campus, as calls came in of screaming, yelling, and gunfire in the locations the Scholars were in. Thankfully, everyone is now safe and accounted for. This was a time when not only the MSU community came together, but also the MSU Evans Scholars to show that we’re all in this together and to support one another.
Well, now it is 3:43am and I’m going to try to get some sleep. Thank you to everyone who reached out and made sure I was safe and/or okay. Your kind words and support mean a lot during this time and I hope that those effected on and off campus are able to get the help they need in terms of support. I am here for anyone that would like to talk or any support they need as well #GoGreen #ELStrong