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Mass shooting at Michigan State University leaves 3 students dead and 5 injured

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Yet another community is now reeling after a deadly school shooting. This time, it's East Lansing, Mich. A gunman killed and wounded students at Michigan State University last night. And details are still emerging as the investigation continues. Michigan Public Radio Network's Colin Jackson reports.

COLIN JACKSON, BYLINE: All day, Michigan State students have been dropping off flowers at a makeshift memorial at a place called The Rock. MSU senior Sarah Lenhoff (ph) is among those who dropped by.

SARAH LENHOFF: I live directly across the street from the Union and I - like, me and my roommate are nosey, so we ran to the window. And we saw some cops. And I watched everyone flood out of the building. And so this is the only way I can think to process it.

JACKSON: Three students died during the shooting. Five were injured. They are being treated at a hospital about 10 minutes down the road. It's been a trying moment for Dr. Denny Martin, who teared up during the press conference. He says four of the students required surgery.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

DENNY MARTIN: Their conditions are evolving. Again, I'll say that they're all absolutely in a critical condition. But there's varying degrees of that. But I think it's just too early. It's too early on their course to give any kind of, you know, prognosis at this point.

JACKSON: University police have confirmed that the suspect was 43 years old, but they haven't released many other details. Police say they made contact with him around three hours after the incident, following the release of security camera footage and a tip from a citizen. The suspect was found dead off-campus from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. MSU Interim Deputy Police Chief Chris Rozman says they're still working to find a motive.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS ROZMAN: We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point. We can confirm that the 43-year-old suspect had no affiliation to the university. He was not a student, faculty, staff, current or previous.

JACKSON: This is the second mass shooting at a school to have occurred in Michigan in less than two years. It was in November of 2021 that a student at Oxford High School opened fire on his classmates, killing four. Some photos taken during Monday night's emergency showed at least one MSU student wearing a sweatshirt memorializing the Oxford shooting. Today, Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who represents the area, called for action.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELISSA SLOTKIN: I cannot believe that I am here again doing this 15 months later. And I am filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools. And I would say that you either care about protecting kids or you don't.

JACKSON: After the mass shooting at Oxford High School, state lawmakers proposed safe storage and red flag gun laws, but they never moved under what was then a Republican-controlled legislature. Democrats now have the majorities to get them passed. At the state capitol, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks promised legislation in the aftermath of this shooting at Michigan State.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WINNIE BRINKS: Whether it's mass shootings, homicides or suicide, we know there is not one bill or one policy that can make all of that go away overnight. But we do know that there is a culture of violence that we can make a direct impact on.

JACKSON: MSU's campus is just a few miles down the road from the state capitol. And today, many students said it's hard to imagine anything bringing back a sense of normalcy. The university's interim president, Teresa Woodruff, says counseling sources are available. Classes won't be held until next Monday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TERESA WOODRUFF: We ask each of you to honor your feelings and to take care of yourself and each other. And together, we will come back more resilient than ever.

JACKSON: That may take some time for some here. At The Rock, serving today as a makeshift memorial, red letters spray painted on it asks simply, how many more?

For NPR News, I'm Colin Jackson in East Lansing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Colin Jackson

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