As I lay in the comfort of my own home, far away from my college apartment, I can’t help but think about the 9 Spartan families who wish their own child was laying in the comfort of theirs. What happened on Monday will forever change East Lansing, and it has affected every student who was active on campus at the time this tragedy started. The words, “you never understand until it happens to you” has a new meaning. Hearing about these types of things on the news is one thing, but to actually hear the police sirens blaring, the helicopters circling, and the ambulances wailing is indescribable.
As I begin to prepare for my exam the following day, I tell myself that I’m only taking a break to play 2 or so rounds of a game as a little study break. I put my headphones on and begin to play the game. I glance at the clock to limit myself on how long I can play for, and my stove shows 7:47. I tell myself that I can only play until 8 because I needed to get back to the books. 8:14 is now showing on my stove; yet, I decide to play another round which broke my promise to myself on when I’d get started. As I continue to play, cop cars start flying passed my window, but this isn’t too unusual as I’ve seen similar sights at all hours of the day on other occasions. Being curious, I stop playing my game and walk over to my window, overlooking the Broad Art Museum, and continue to see more police cars coming. Usually, when there are this many police cars, they continue driving down Grand River towards the capital. This time was different, though, because the sirens weren’t getting quieter; instead, I heard them stopping right outside my apartment.
Moments later, I get a notification from Michigan State University’s alert system notifying every MSU student, facility, and staff to, “Run. Hide. Fight.” The curiosity I had about the situation turned to instant fear as I rushed to turn the lights off in my apartment and move away from all windows. Living alone, I didn’t know who to notify or what to do. I get a call from my mom repeating the message that I just received, and she began to ask about my safety. As she is asking my about my own safety, a sense of guilt overcomes my body as I begin to think about the students who are in a building less than a 2-minute walk away who are actively running, hiding, and fighting for their lives. I find a police scanner on my computer with around 1,000 listeners and attentively pay attention with the first thing I hear being, “2 DOA at Berkey Hall.” At that moment, I couldn’t even process what I was hearing. How does this happen on my campus? Where are my friends? Who is to blame for this and where are they? How many people are involved? As time went on, more and more police cars and ambulances arrived at the scene, as well as more reports of gunfire heard across the campus. The sound of that many sirens going off keeps replaying in my mind. The selflessness of the first responders was remarkable. Moments after the helicopter was called in, I began to hear the low humming of the chopper swirling around overhead. Reports of fire alarms being pulled, people banging on other people’s doors, alleged sightings of people with guns, and a bomb threat circulated for 4 hours as students feared for their lives. Over 250,000 people were listening to the scanner at one point. The realization that this was actually occurring at our campus began to set it.
For 4 traumatizing hours, there were students who had to see and hear things that they should’ve never had to without an answer on when it will end or who was responsible for such an evil event to transpire. One of the hardest things for me to process is that there are some students who already had to live through this tragic experience before. Students were crouched for hours into their classmates, fearing for their lives. Students used the clothes on their backs in hopes to stop the bleeding of their fellow classmates. Students were catching other students who were escaping through the windows they had to break. Students who were in the buildings on campus had to use anything and everything they had available to them to try and barricade themselves inside the room they were in. Students were killed and critically injured as a result of this evil man's merciless actions.
Hours after fearfully listening to the police scanner, it says something along the lines of a person matching the suspect’s description has been found with self-inflicted gunshot wounds well off campus. This man wreaked havoc amongst my community, and he cowardly took his own life? It doesn’t make sense to me, it isn’t fair. What hurts me the most is the fact that these were kids who were just trying to better their own lives. The same dream the rest of us students at MSU have - to graduate and positively change the world as a spartan. They spent their last moments in classrooms. They spent their last moments on a campus that was supposed to bring positive, lifelong memories. A campus that would aid in their future endeavors, but it was stripped away from them due to this monster. My heart breaks for the victims and for all their families. I can’t even put into words the feeling of guilt that I have for being in an apartment so close to where this took place. I wish there was something I could’ve done to help. Thinking that it could’ve been any one of the 50,000 students puts a pit in my stomach. Why did he choose that room? Why did he choose those people? Why did he choose that building? Why did he come at 8pm? I had class earlier that day… I had an exam the next day, and thanks to my laziness, I decided not to go on campus to study. A campus that was once green and vibrant is now gray and dim.