Michigan State University shooter found with 2 guns legally purchased, but not registered

Police: Shooter had dozens of rounds of ammunition on him

Michigan State University Interim Deputy Police Chief Chris Rozman, center, joins law enforcement officials while addressing the media, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich. Police said a man suspected of killing several people and wounding others at the university on Monday night has died. Police said the man apparently shot himself off campus. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The man who opened fire at Michigan State University Monday night, killing three students and injuring five others, was found with two handguns that were legally purchased, but not registered, police report.

About three hours after the first shooting was reported on Michigan State University’s campus on Feb. 13, police located the shooter about 3.8 miles away from campus in Lansing thanks to a tip. Two Lansing police officers arrived at the location first, spotted the shooter, got out of their vehicle and ordered the man to show his hands, officials said.

Then the shooter, identified as 43-year-old Anthony McRae, shot and killed himself. According to authorities, he is not believed to have said anything to those officers before pulling the trigger.

During a news briefing Thursday morning, police said after more officers arrived, the scene was cleared and then they searched McRae. On him were two 9 mm handguns, one in his hand and another in his backpack. Both weapons were reportedly purchased legally by McRae, but they had not been registered.

The shooter also had eight loaded magazines in his backpack, a pencil-sized pouch with 50 rounds of loose ammunition, a full magazine in his breast pocket and two empty magazines when police found him. Along with the weapons and ammunition, the shooter was found with two bus tickets and a note reportedly containing a list of targets.

McRae was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in Lansing in 2019, but that charge was dropped down to a misdemeanor, and McRae was sentenced to probation. Police said Thursday that due to his charge being lowered, he was not prevented from legally purchasing a firearm.

The prosecutor who worked on that case no longer works in Ingham County, officials said. The current Ingham County prosecutor has issued a statement on McRae’s 2019 charge -- you can find that below.

The shooter had a few other interactions with Lansing police in the past few years, including the following:

  • A larceny complaint in 2005,
  • A traffic violation in 2006, and
  • Two traffic violations in 2007.

Lansing police said they had never responded to a welfare check request for McRae. A welfare check request was once made at his Lansing home, but officials said it was not related to the shooter.

The note found on the shooter reportedly said that many others were involved in plans to attack Michigan State University, in addition to other locations to follow. Police said Thursday that based on their investigation, which included an interview with the shooter’s father, they believe McRae was acting on his own Monday night.

Below is the full Feb. 14 statement from the Ingham County Prosecutor.

Last night our community suffered an unfathomable tragedy. A gunman entered MSU campus and began taking the lives of innocent students.

As the news became widespread of this active violence incident, our community began to process this nightmare. Our deepest condolences are with those families, friends, students, faculty members whose loved ones were killed or injured by the gunman’s deliberate actions last night. Our office also commends the quick response of law enforcement, first responders, dispatchers, and health care providers that responded from jurisdictions throughout our State. As a Prosecutor, a parent of an MSU student, and as a member of this community, I am grateful to everyone who responded to this emergency.

Our office has been requested to provide information on the deceased gunman, Anthony McRae. In the interest of transparency, I am releasing information pertaining to the only case that the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office has handled.

In 2019, Anthony McRae was contacted by police. During the investigation, he was searched by police and found to be in possession of a handgun that was legally registered to him. At the time, he did not have a concealed carry permit as required by law. As a result, he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a felony punishable by up to five years

On October 24, 2019, Mr. McRae entered a guilty plea to an added Count 2: Possession of a Loaded Firearm in or upon a Vehicle, a High Court Misdemeanor punishable by up to two years. On November 26, 2019, Mr. McRae was sentenced to 12 months probation with terms set by the 30th Circuit Court. On May 14, 2021, after successfully completing all terms of his probation, Mr. McRae was successfully discharged from probation.

Any offender who is convicted and facing sentencing in Michigan is provided a Sentence Guideline (SGL) score during their pre-sentence investigation. The SGL score provides the court with guidance for a sentence recommendation. It is a routine matter in nearly all criminal cases that the recommended sentence is not the same as the legal maximum. Even if he were convicted by a jury of the original charge, Anthony McRae would not have been recommended for a jail or prison sentence. The sentencing guideline score would have been the same if he had been convicted of either the original charge (Carrying a Concealed Weapon) or the offense for which he was convicted (carrying a firearm in a vehicle).

School shootings are becoming far too common in our State. The proliferation of guns in our cities and neighborhoods endangers us all. We support Governor Whitmer and our local representatives’ calls for action. It is time to address gun violence in this state and the gun laws that allow for it to continue, time and time again.

John Dewane, Ingham County Prosecutor

More: Michigan State University shooter pleaded guilty to firearm charge in 2019: Everything we know

MSU campus shooting: Find all of our online coverage here

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.