New details have emerged about a shooting that left three students dead and five others injured at Michigan State University this week.
Police have not established a motive in Monday’s attack, but a note found on Anthony McRae, whom authorities identified as the gunman, contained claims that he led a group of killers, had threats against local businesses, a church and a New Jersey school district, and indicated that “he felt slighted in some way by people or businesses,” Christopher Rozman, deputy chief of the Michigan State University Department of Police and Public Safety, said during a news conference Thursday.
“I just want to assure everybody that that is the question on all of our minds, and we are working ... to try to determine that as best as possible,” Rozman said of a motive, adding that authorities also are examining whether the gunman had a history of mental health problems.
University police on Tuesday identified the three students killed as Brian Fraser, 20, a sophomore from Grosse Pointe, Michigan; Alexandria Verner, 20, a junior from Clawson, Michigan; and Arielle Anderson, 19, a junior from Grosse Pointe.
Authorities said McRae, 43, fatally shot himself about four miles away from the university after an hourslong hunt that forced frightened students to hide in the dark. A tip from a caller led police to the man, whom officials said had no known connection to the university. Investigators are looking into a claim that he was once turned down for a possible job there, Rozman said.
Two handguns were found on McRae, police said, including the one he turned on himself. The guns used in the attack were legally purchased but not registered, officials said Thursday. It was unclear when and where they were purchased.
Authorities also found eight loaded magazines of 9-millimeter ammunition and a small pouch containing 50 rounds of loose ammunition in a backpack.
McRae also had two bus tickets and two pages of notes in his wallet, officials said.
“That was the note that indicated where he was going to visit and also kind of gave an indication of ... a motive, but nothing that we can actually confirm just yet,” Michigan State Police Lt. Rene Gonzalez said.
The note said McRae was the leader of a group of 20 killers, but authorities said an investigation, including interviews with his father, who said his son had no friends and was often alone in his room, found that claim was unsubstantiated.
Five students remain hospitalized; one is stable and four are in critical condition, officials said. The students in Berkey Hall, the academic building that was the site of the first attack, helped render aid to those who were injured before emergency medical officers arrived on the scene.
The names of those in the hospital have not been released out of respect for the families, university police said.
“I’m pleased that we are seeing some signs of improvement in some of our students, and our Spartan nation continues to send good thoughts to each of them, to their families,” said Teresa K. Woodruff, interim president of Michigan State.
Classes remain suspended through Sunday, but university offices are open after the campus had been operating on a modified schedule, Woodruff said.
Berkey Hall will remain closed through the remainder of the semester. Administrators are deciding whether to reopen the student union, the site of the second attack, Woodruff said.
“We know as a campus that we have hard work ahead of us,” she said.
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