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Students beat up MSU shooter before rampage, tipster told cops

Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

A few weeks before Michigan State University's mass shooting, the accused gunman said he was beaten up by a group of students in downtown East Lansing, a tipster told university police a day after the campus tragedy.

This detail, revealed in a 91-page preliminary MSU police case report released to The Detroit News through a public records request, offers context to what possibly occurred leading up to the Feb. 13 shooting. The revelation comes a month after MSU police said in an April 27 update that they had found "no conclusive motive" behind 43-year-old Anthony McRae's actions to open fire at three locations at the university, killing three and wounding five others, before taking his own life.

Surveillance videos showed Anthony McRae bought ammunition from a Dunham's sporting goods store at the Lansing Mall about three hours before the Feb. 13 shooting at Michigan State University.

Included in the report is an interview by MSU Sgt. David Isabell on Feb. 14 with an unidentified man who came to the police station and said he knew McRae, whom he referred to as "Tony." The man said he met McRae in 2018 at a community gathering of residents working to improve greater Lansing communities. McRae lived in Lansing.

The man, whose name was redacted, told police that he last saw McRae three weeks earlier.

"(He) stated that Tony seemed to be agitated," the report says. "Tony told (him) that he had been beaten up by students. Tony didn't indicate if the students were MSU students. Tony did not advise what caused the altercation between him and the students."


The alleged incident occurred in downtown East Lansing in an area the witness said McRae frequented "to collect cans for money on the weekends."

"(He) believes the indicated altercation with students may have been the motive behind the shooting on 2/13/2023," according to the police report. "He also recalls having conversations with Tony about mass shootings in the past. These conversations were not recent in nature. (He) believes Tony had an infatuation with school shootings/shooters."

MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant on Thursday declined comment on the development.

The report also supplies more information about the movements of McRae before he opened fire in Berkey Hall and the MSU Union, killing 19-year-old Arielle Anderson of Harper Woods, 20-year-old Alexandria Verner of Clawson and 20-year-old Brian Fraser of Grosse Pointe and severely injuring the five other MSU students.


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