A gunman opened fire at Michigan State University (MSU), in East Lansing, Mich., on Feb. 13. Three people were killed, and five more were left injured. This attack took place in an academic building, Berkey Hall, and a student hub, MSU Union.
The perpetrator was identified to be a 43-year-old male who had no affiliation to MSU. Later on in the evening of the attack, he was confronted by the police and fatally shot himself.
During the shooting and the hours the police spent looking for the suspect, terrified students were left hiding in classrooms, cars, and around campus.
“Research tends to point to the fact that college campuses are such a common target because they are so open and there are always ‘suitable targets’ walking around,” said SHU criminal justice professor and expert in victimology, Dr. Analisa Gagnon.
Since the start of 2023, the United States has already been through 71 mass shootings, according to USA Today. Last year, there were over 600 mass shootings.
“Although I was saddened to hear about the shooting in Michigan, I was not surprised,” said sophomore Leena Abdulrahman. “Unfortunately, in the U.S. it is only a matter of time until it will happen somewhere else.”
Abdulrahman grew up not far from SHU, in Newton, Conn., where the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place.
“It is shocking to see it on a college campus given that I am also a college student and am on campus every day,” said junior Abby Lockwood. “There is this sinking feeling that it could happen to any of us.”
As a result of this event, SHU students are thinking of their own safety on campus.
“After the Sandy Hook shooting, all schools in Newtown had a police officer on duty, locked their classroom doors, and had an extensive sign-in and sign-out procedure every day. I always felt safe under those rules,” Abdulrahman said.
Although SHU has not experienced an event like this, Public Safety and neighboring police forces know of the consistent possible threat.
“The key in any preparation is prevention. We utilize infrastructure, training, reporting and partnerships to detect and respond,” said Gary MacNamara, Executive Director of Public Safety and Governmental Affairs.
According to Public Safety, SHU has large amounts of infrastructure, including cameras and control locks. Additionally, Public Safety maintains a strong relationship with local, state and federal public safety partners, sometimes training with them.
“The overall structure of campus is well maintained,” said Gagnon. “The newer buildings do not have wide open windows along them and you have to pass by a security booth getting into most entrances.”
Gagnon chooses to teach her classes with the door shut, as research has shown this would deter an active shooter due to their goal being to get as many bodies as possible.
“Anytime there is an incident, it affects all of us. We need to continue to be diligent in our efforts,” said MacNamara. “It is important for the SHU community and Public Safety to continue to come together and share concerns.”
MSU canceled all campus events held for the following 48 hours after the attacks. According to MSU Today, there were vigils in both the auditorium and “The Rock” on-campus to mourn those who were lost or injured in the attack.
“We cannot become numb to gun violence. No one should be comfortable with hearing this type of news,” said Lockwood.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.