Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

MSU victim Alexandria Verner was a star athlete, ‘most caring’ person

Alexandria Verner, a junior at Michigan State University was a bright student and star athlete with hopes of becoming a forensic scientist. The 20-year-old was among the three who died after being shot by a mass shooter at the university Monday evening. (courtesy photo)
  • Alexandria Verner was a great student, athlete and student volunteer
  • Verner was one of three who died  during the tragic mass shooting at MSU 
  • Family, friends, teammates and community members remembered Verner as a role model, who 'was loved by everybody'

Alexandria Verner excelled both on and off the basketball and volleyball courts and was kind to all.

Her grandfather, Charles Neal said she was "a fantastic girl." 

"She was loved by everybody. And she had a future,” he said in a brief interview.

Neal described Verner as an all-season athlete in high school and a straight-A student in college. 


Verner was a junior at MSU with dreams of becoming a forensic scientist. She was among the three students who were fatally shot during the mass shooting at the university on Monday night, along with Brian Fraser and Arielle Anderson. Five people remain in the hospital seriously injured. 

Verner, 20 and from Clawson in Oakland County, graduated from Clawson High School in 2020.  

She was a person who “made you feel better about yourself,” Clawson Public Schools Superintendent Billy Shellenbarger told Bridge.

“She is one of those kiddos that you hope that you have a daughter like her,” he said. “You hope that your son or daughter finds somebody like Al as a partner in life.” 

Shellenbarger, who was the principal while Verner was in high school, mourned her death in a Tuesday email to local families. 

“Alex was and is incredibly loved by everyone. She was a tremendous student, athlete, leader and exemplified kindness every day of her life!” he wrote.

Shellenbarger said he developed a relationship with the family in 2008, when he started a youth program that they were heavily involved in. 

Photos provided by Clawson Public Schools show Verner participating in basketball and volleyball. She also played softball. 

"She was a champion. She was our (basketball) league MVP … and she led her team to championships," Shellenbarger said. "To watch her on the court be the go-to person on a tremendous team and be the role model … was pretty awesome.”  

Her family was very supportive of her, Shellenbarger said. Ted Verner, her father, recorded the points at the scoring table and her mother, Nancy Verner, was always the loudest one in the stands, he  said.

Brooke Sarvello, who played basketball with Verner at Clawson, described her as a “great teammate” who was “always smiling,” friendly and outgoing.

During a vigil held at Clawson High School on Feb. 14, Verner’s basketball jersey No. 24 and softball jersey No.10 hung over the fence. 

Michael Frink, president of the Clawson Board of Education, told Bridge that Verner was a compassionate person who frequently volunteered “to help kids in need.”

In high school, she was part of the Trojan Leadership Council, a student organization that participates in community service throughout the year. When the organization volunteered at Forgotten Harvest Farms in Fenton, Verner “led the charge” and was dedicated to helping others, Shellenbarger said. 

On Facebook, classmates and acquaintances remembered Verner as a cherished friend, a model student and a member of a family with strong ties to the Clawson community.

She was an “Incredible person and even better friend,” wrote Maria Chene. 

“Anyone who knows the Verner family knows how much the whole family has done for the Clawson community,” wrote Lyndsey Eyrn Butler, adding that the kindness of the Verner parents, Nancy and Ted, “was passed down through every child they raised.”

“She was the sweetest, most caring, funniest, smartest, most genuine person I have ever known,” Alliyah Ocampo wrote. “Anytime you were feeling down, Alex was there to make your day better and she would never fail to put a smile on your face. I will always admire how positive and extremely hardworking she was. If anyone would’ve made a change to this world, it would’ve been Alex Verner.”

Community members gathered for two nights in a row to honor Verner and stand with the MSU community. Clawson High School held another vigil on the football field.

The family announced funeral arrangements for Alexandria in a Facebook post. The viewing was Feb. 17 at Guardian Angels Catholic Church at 581 14 Mile, Clawson. The funeral will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. 

“To our friends and family,  we cannot express our gratitude for all of the love and support,” her mother Nancy Verner wrote in the post. “As private people, we are learning that the grieving process is not only for us but for everyone that loved our Alex.” 

How impactful was this article for you?

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now