LANSING — The Michigan State University shooter checked ammunition in his handgun before entering a room in the MSU Union on the night of Feb. 13, according to surveillance footage from inside the building obtained Friday by Bridge Michigan.
The footage, first obtained by the Detroit Free Press, emerged nearly a month after police say 43-year-old Anthony McRae opened fire on Michigan State University campus Feb. 13, killing three students and critically injuring another five.
At 8:18 p.m. that evening, according to a timeline released by MSU Police on Friday, the shooter started firing into a classroom at Berkey Hall, where he killed two students and injured several others. He then walked to the MSU Union and killed one more.
The surveillance videos provided to Bridge are from the Union, and do not contain audio. Some individuals appearing in the video have been blurred out by MSU Police and there are seconds-long gaps in the videos that are not explained.
A MSU Police spokesperson did not immediately respond to Bridge’s questions Friday about the decision to blur out certain figures and the video gaps.
In the first surveillance video, McRae can be seen entering the Union building via what looks like a side door at 8:24 p.m.
Upon entering the building, he pulls out what appears to be a handgun from his right pocket. As he walks up the stairs, he checks the clip. He turns a corner and disappears from the footage.
The second video shows what happens next.
With what appears to be the handgun in his left hand, the gunman checks and enters a room. At the same time, another figure, blurred out by the MSU Police, comes out the room and leaves the building through the side door. It’s unclear if that blurred figure is fleeing the gunman or is unaware of the threat.
The gunman stays inside the room for 30 seconds before coming out, putting the gun back into the right pocket of his jacket and dashing for a side door. There is a moment he seems to have rushed in the wrong direction, almost running into the wall, before hurrying around the corner to leave the building through the side door at 8:26 p.m.
Roughly 30 seconds afterward, another blurred figure appears from the far end of the hallway and seems to enter the same room the shooter had entered or the room next to it. At least one person comes in and out of that room between 8:26 and 8:27 p.m.
At 8:27 p.m, a female police officer approaches the side door with a long gun, opens the door, looks behind her and checks the hallway for a few seconds before another blurred figure appears at the end of the hallway. She points her gun at the person and appears to yell, before allowing the person to dash past her out the door. The officer then also rushes away from the building.
At 8:29 p.m., police officers ascend from the basement of the Union building to check the area where the gunman entered the room. Without appearing to check the room, they look around at the door to the basement, and then proceed to go back downstairs.
Earlier Friday, MSU Police released a “preliminary” timeline of the shooting spree, which lasted at least 8 minutes. Police say the shooter had already left Berkey Hall when police officers arrived at the building and had already exited the Union to leave campus when the first MSU shooting alert went out to students.
Police also released what it described as a note found in the gunman’s pocket after he shot and killed himself when confronted by police later that night.
The note, written the day before the shooting, made threats to several locations in Lansing, DeWitt Township, as well as places in Colorado and New Jersey. The gunman said he felt “hurted” by those entities and alleged in the note a group of 20 people planned to shoot up those places.
“I’m tired of being rejected. Outcast. Loner. People hate me. They made me who I’m am today a killer,” the note read.
Amid outcry for stricter gun laws following the MSU shooting, Michigan Democrats — who hold a two-seat majority in both legislative chambers — have fast-tracked a series of legislation to tighten gun laws in the state. Earlier this week, a bill that would expand criminal background check requirements from pistols to rifles and shotguns cleared the Michigan House 56-53 with votes split along party lines.
After the shooting, some students criticized the administration and the campus police during town hall events and demanded more security measures on campus. Many complained that classroom doors, like those in Berkey Hall, had no locks and opened outward, making barricades inside the classrooms useless. And, as Bridge Michigan reported, there was a 13 minute gap between the time police were first notified of a shooter and when the school sent out campus-wide emergency alerts to students.
Some security features available in other Michigan colleges as well as across the states are not available at MSU, according to a Bridge survey of 69 public and private colleges and universities.
MSU has announced plans to add locks to all 1,300 classrooms by fall, Interim President Teresa Woodruff said last month. The school is also now requiring key-card access to campus buildings between 6 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. and will adopt more security measures, such as more security cameras and requiring students and staff to take part in active violent intruder training.
Additionally, some lawmakers are pushing for more funds to improve campus security. Rep. Samantha Steckloff, D-Farmington Hills, proposed $100 million to help public colleges and universities statewide with security upgrades.
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