Note written by MSU shooter asked 'why,' outlined other targets

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

A Lansing man who fatally shot three Michigan State University students on campus last month and badly wounded five others portrayed himself as a "rejected outcast" who didn't want to be an African American in a note police found on him after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Every Where I go people treat me different," wrote Anthony McRae, 43, in a note that police found on him Feb. 13 after he took his own life 3.8 miles from campus. "I don't want to be an American african(.) I m a person(.) Why do people hate me? They never accepted me.

"I'm tired of being rejected outcast loner people hate me(.) They made me who I'm am today a killer."

The two-page handwritten note ― dated Feb. 12, 2023, the day before the shooting at MSU ― was obtained by The Detroit News Friday through a Freedom of Information request. It adds more details about a potential motive for the Feb. 13 mass shooting on MSU's campus as the community continues to mourn and demand more gun control measures from state lawmakers after the second mass school shooting in Michigan in 18 months.

McRae wrote in his note, redacted in part by MSU police, that he supposedly is the leader of a group of 20 and he would be "shooting up MSU."

"some of the other groups will be going to Coloroda (sic) Springs to shoot up (redaction)," it reads. "They hurt me."

He also outlined other targets including East Lansing, Old Town Lansing, Holt, DeWitt and New Jersey, where the McRae family lived when his parents worked for General Motors.

Police say McRae had a history of mental health issues and was charged with multiple gun-related crimes in 2019.

MSU police also released new details Friday about the Feb. 13 attack, including a timeline of the events that unfolded between the first emergency calls of shots fired at 8:18 p.m. to the first campus-wide alert at 8:30 p.m., as well as surveillance footage of the gunman entering the MSU Union.

The timeline shows that law enforcement missed McRae by one minute after shots were fired at the Union and made contact with McRae later that night, about a half-hour after MSU Police and Public Safety released his photo.

MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said the university had no comment on McRae's note.

What else the note said

The note ― which began and ended with "Why? Why? Why?" ― began with him apologizing for his handwriting and includes a stick-figure sad face, crying. It also introduced himself.

"Hi My name is Anthony McRae."

Midway through the note, McRae referenced his father, Michael McRae, who told The News that his son was a loner and took a downward turn after his mother died. The father also denied that his son had mental health issues.

In an interview with The News days after the shooting, Michael McRae said he had no idea that his son would be the accused killer behind the nation's 67th mass shooting in 2023. The father also said he was hurt by the devastation his son caused and called for gun control legislation.

Michael McRae could not be reached Friday for comment.

In his note, Anthony McRae wrote "My father as (sic) nothing to do with this."

Besides his race, being treated differently, feeling unnoticed and unaccepted, McRae's note also said it was "10 years since I had sex."

Expert dissects note

Katherine Schweit, a former FBI agent, lawyer, expert on mass shootings and MSU alumna, said people who are planning to kill themselves often write a letter.

"It is common that people who take their own life and who want a legacy or want to be remembered write down what they believe is their reason for doing something whether it is their true reason or realized situation," Schweit said.

Often, people write notes to try to "convince themselves that is was the right thing to do," she said.

"At that moment, they have free rein to invent whatever story or whatever excuse and create whatever terror they want to create," Schweit said.

"This is an individual who looked for an opportunity to try to say I am part of a bigger group," she continued. "He wanted to create a legacy that he is important. When in fact he is a very confused, sad example of somebody who lost his way."

Lawmakers move forward on gun legislation

Earlier this week, lawmakers in the Democratic-led House passed bills that would require a criminal background check and registration for any firearm purchase. The bills, if passed by the Senate, would expand Michigan's current requirements that require background checks for handguns and expand them to rifles and shotguns bought outside of federally licensed dealers, such as private sales or transfers or gun shows.

Meanwhile, passage of the registration bill would shift the duty to register the gun from the buyer to the seller. Lawmakers are considering other bills including safe storage requirement for firearms in homes and red flag legislation, which means that firearms could be taken away from people who could pose a threat to others.

Anthony McRae legally bought a gun but did not register it. He took a plea deal in 2019 from Ingham County prosecutors that let him plead down from carrying a concealed pistol without a concealed carry permit, a five-year felony, to possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, a two-year misdemeanor for which he served 18 months of probation.

Under the misdemeanor charge, McRae could legally own and possess a gun after probation. Critics of additional gun regulations have highlighted the accused gunman's deal to urge better enforcement of existing firearm laws.

A mother of one of the MSU shooting survivors gave emotional testimony before the House Judiciary Committee before lawmakers passed the bills in a late Wednesday session.

"My son and our family are not only victims of mass shootings; we are victims of a failed system that can't keep guns from those who aim to inflict devastating harm," said Krista Grettenberger, the mother of MSU student Troy Forbush, who underwent surgery and spent a week in intensive care at Sparrow Hospital after a bullet pierced his chest.

"Michiganders should not have to be afraid to live our every day lives going to school, to the movies, to churches, to restaurants, stores and concerts," Grettenberger continued. "Please, come together as our respected lawmakers and do everything possible to pass all laws that can help save Michiganders from becoming the next victim of gun violence. And that starts with passing this crucial bill package."

Police officers found this handwritten note in a pocket on accused Michigan State University gunman Anthony McRae after he committed suicide on a street in Lansing when approached by officers. This is the first of two pages. Warning, the note contains language that may disturbing to read.

Those who died in the shooting were 19-year-old Arielle Anderson of Harper Woods and 20-year-old Alexandria Verner of Clawson, who were inside of Berkey Hall; and 20-year-old Brian Fraser of Grosse Pointe, who was in the MSU Union.

Of the five MSU students who were badly wounded and hospitalized, three students have since been released. The wounded include John Hao, a 20-year-old student from China who was paralyzed from the waist down; Nate Statly, a 20-year-old junior who sustained a severe head injury; and Guadalupe Huapilla-Perez, a junior who underwent at least one surgery and faced an additional two more, according to family and friends who identified them through GoFundMe pages to raise money for their care.

Forbush, an Okemos resident, identified himself on social media after he announced he was among the first to be blessed to be discharged from Sparrow Hospital.

The fifth survivor has not been identified.

The mass shooting at MSU is the second at a Michigan school in the past 18 months. On Nov. 30, 2021, Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old student at the time, went on a shooting rampage that killed four fellow students and injured six other students and a teacher inside Oxford High School.

A year later, he pleaded guilty to 24 criminal charges and is awaiting sentencing. The Court of Appeals is considering a groundbreaking case against his parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, regarding whether they should face manslaughter charges for the acts of their son.