Michigan State dispatch logs: Anthony McRae spotted hours before he was caught
- MSU shooting unfolded as callers alerted police to initial shooting inside one classroom in Berkey Hall
- While searching for shooter, police had to search seven other campus buildings based on unfounded reports
- Shooter shot himself in north Lansing over three hours later; he had two guns and multiple magazines of ammunition
Feb. 27: Michigan State shooting: Alerts to students delayed as police rushed to campus
Feb. 17: Before Michigan State shootings, killer grew increasingly reclusive, bitter
Feb. 16: Police: Michigan State shooter felt ‘slighted,’ threatened others in note
LANSING — Just before tragedy engulfed Michigan State University campus Monday, local police had had a quiet night.
About 8:11 p.m., Ingham County dispatchers alerted crews to a possible downed power line in Lansing. Other officers tested the volume on their radios.
Terror came less than 10 minutes later, at 8:18 p.m., as police fielded the first frantic calls of a gunman firing on students at Berkey Hall along busy Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.
“MSU units, I have a shots-fired complaint at Berkey Hall,” a dispatcher said. “Multiple callers calling it in right now.”
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What unfolded over the next three hours were dozens of tips — many inaccurate — that may have slowed the search for the gunman, according to a Bridge Michigan review of three hours of publicly available dispatch calls from the website Broadcastify.com.
While the records may not be complete, they also reveal that police had a good indication of the description of the suspect within 20 minutes of the first call.
In the frenzied early minutes of the tragedy, the calls were focused on Berkey Hall, an academic building that is home to the university’s College of Social Science, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and Department of Sociology.
Just two minutes after the first call, callers mentioned a specific room — 114 — and said students had begun blocking doors as the gunman roamed the halls.
“They do have someone shot in room 135 as well,” a dispatcher said moments later.
By 8:23 p.m., reports came of students jumping from first-floor windows to escape carnage. “There is one subject who’s not breathing who is shot in the head,” a dispatcher told crews headed toward campus.
Then, at 8:40 p.m., the worst news came: A medic at Berkey announced he was with multiple victims.
“Two patients, one DOA.”
Before the evening was over, three students would be dead: Arielle Diamond Anderson, 19, Brian Fraser, 20, who both had attended Grosse Pointe schools, and Alexandria Verner, 20, of Clawson.
Five others were critically wounded.
By 8:30 p.m. police were told that a short Black man with a blue mask had walked from Berkey to the MSU Union, where he shot more students before fleeing.
They notified the public of that description at 9:56 p.m. in a Twitter message.
It would be nearly two more hours before police tracked down the shooter, now identified as Anthony D. McRae, 43, of Lansing, walking on foot over 4 miles from campus. He had two handguns and multiple magazines of ammo, police said.
Police said he shot himself as they confronted him. They have not publicly shared any additional details since early Tuesday but are expected to discuss the case Thursday morning in a press conference.
It’s not yet clear how McRae got so far from campus that night, but he easily could have walked there in less than two hours. A dispatcher also noted there were several city bus stops near where he was found, which was about 1 mile from his home in northern Lansing.
The same dispatch recordings also show that dozens of other calls flooded in, with police dispatched more than 22 teams of officers — composed of law enforcement agencies from across the region — to no fewer than seven buildings on campus to check on reports of shots fired, people screaming, men carrying guns, a black truck and even a man limping.
For each of those calls, officers responded, often going floor by floor to ensure everyone was safe. The reports proved false, however.
The shooter was instead apparently seen walking away from campus at 9:20 p.m., spotted at Harrison and Grand River, dispatchers reported.
And a video from a fraternity appears to capture him, wearing a backpack and a ballcap, walking north on Harrison at that time.
Behind McRae, the campus was buzzing in the wake of his terror: medical workers treated the wounded at Berkey and the Union and police were going from the Brody dormitory complex to Phillips and Snyder halls looking for the shooter.
Even though officers made sure the shooter was out of the union by 9:02 p.m. and while medics were treating and transporting victims from Berkey and the union by then, other officers were racing all over campus.
“Multiple callers advising that near the basketball courts the possible accused is there,” a dispatcher said, referring to the recreation facility at IM East. “They can hear screaming and shooting.”
Told by the university to “run, hide or fight,” students repeatedly called 911 about what they thought was the sound of a loading gun in one dormitory, bursts of gunfire at others and several suspicious vehicles, including a red Mustang speeding across campus.
Emergency callers began to report suspicious persons at a higher volume after MSU Police put out a short description of the suspected shooter shortly before 10 p.m.: "A short male with a mask, possibly Black."
But it wasn't until a later MSU police alert — an 11:18 p.m. release with an image pulled from surveillance footage at Berkey Hall — that multiple callers reported seeing someone that more closely matched McRae's description.
By roughly 11:45, it appeared police had their man.
After one caller reported seeing the suspect near a McDonald's on Lake Lansing, another spotted him on nearby High Street. A Black man, jean jacket, matching the shooter’s description, the dispatcher said.
A responding police officer, already nearby, rerouted and spotted McRae.
"He just crossed the road," he said, describing a man wearing a jean jacket, black pants and a backpack with his hood up.
Moments later, the police: "subject just shot himself. We need medics now."
The dispatcher, noting the time was 11:49 p.m., reported widely to others on the police channel that there were “shots fired” and the “subject down” at Lake Lansing and Larch.
“MSP found the subject who matched the description,” the dispatcher said. “When they made an approach, he shot himself."
An officer soon reported performing CPR on McRae.
But as medics approached, law enforcement described him as "DOA” – dead on arrival.
Back on campus, eight students who had witnessed the earlier shooting there were finally cleared to leave the MSU Union, where medics were preparing to pick them up for transport to the Pavillion, a holding center established on the outskirts of campus.
"Units at union," the dispatcher said shortly after midnight, "it seems secure."
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