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An “uniquely American problem”

22 April 2023

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The Guardian title: ‘We can’t keep living like this’: Michigan governor denounces campus shooting
Guardian subtitle: Gretchen Whitmer calls for action on ‘uniquely American problem’ after gunman kills three Michigan State students and wounds five
By: Richard Luscombe
Date: 14 February 2023

“The governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, denounced the “uniquely American problem” of gun violence on Tuesday, after a gunman murdered three students in a mass shooting at Michigan State University the night before.

Whitmer spoke at a press conference in East Lansing at which authorities identified the shooter, who killed himself, and revealed other details about the attack that left five students critically wounded.

“We cannot keep living like this,” the Democrat said, noting that Tuesday marked five years since 17 students and staff were killed in Florida in the worst US high school shooting.

“We’re all broken by an all too familiar feeling. Another place that is supposed to be about community and togetherness shattered by bullets and bloodshed.

“We know this is a uniquely American problem. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Parkland shooting. We’re mere weeks past the lunar new year shooting at a dance hall [in California] and a few months past a shooting at an elementary school at Uvalde [in Texas], and looking back at a year marked by shootings at grocery stores, parades and so many other ordinary everyday situations.

“Our children are scared to go to school. People feel unsafe in their houses of worship, or local stores. As parents, we tell our kids it’s going to be OK. But the truth is words are not good enough. We must act and we will.”

University officials named two of the victims.

Alexandria Verner, a junior from Detroit, was “a beautiful soul” who enjoyed playing basketball, softball and volleyball in her years at Clawson high school, according to her father, Ted Verner.

Brian Fraser, a sophomore from Grosse Point, Michigan, was also identified. The name of the third victim was being withheld at their family’s request, officials said.

Joe Biden said he and the first lady were praying for the victims, their families and the Michigan State community in a statement renewing the president’s call for an assault weapons ban.

“Every American [should] exclaim ‘enough’ and demand that Congress take action,” Biden said.

He said the justice department was awarding $231m to 49 states and territories “to create and implement crisis intervention projects” including red flag programs and for mental health and substance abuse supports.

At a lunchtime event in Washington, the president said there was “no rationale” for assault weapons.

“Three lives have been lost and five seriously injured. It’s a family’s worst nightmare. It’s happening far too often in this country. We have to do something to stop gun violence ripping apart our communities,” Biden said.

The interim deputy chief of Michigan State campus police, Chris Rozman, named the gunman as 43-year-old Anthony McRae, who he said had no affiliation to the university.

He said McRae shot dead two students and wounded several at Berkey Hall before walking to the student union building less than a block west and killing another.

McRae “quickly fled that building – he was not in the building for that long”, Rozman said. “We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point.”

Rozman said the shooter was located in Lansing at 11.35pm, about three hours after the shooting, after a tip from “an alert citizen” from a photograph released by police.

McRae died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Rozman said, adding that he was unable to provide details of the firearm recovered and that investigators executed a search warrant on a residence connected to McRae.

Authorities in Ewing, New Jersey, said police found a note in the gunman’s pocket that “indicated a threat” to two public schools in that Delaware River township.

The “investigation revealed that McRae had a history of mental health issues”, Ewing police said on Facebook, adding that McRae had ties to the community and that area schools were closed “out of an abundance of caution”.

Cellphone video showed students running across campus in panic as shots rang out while others barricaded themselves into classrooms and bedrooms for several hours.

“The shooter came in our room and shot three to four times,” a student, Dominik Molotky, told ABC News. “I’m pretty sure he hit two students in our classroom.”

The Democratic Michigan congresswoman Elissa Slotkin echoed Whitmer’s calls for reform, saying she was “filled with rage” at having to address another press conference only 15 months after a high school shooting in Oxford township near Detroit left three dead and eight injured.

“We have children in Michigan who are living through their second school shooting in under a year and a half,” Slotkin said. “If this is not a wake-up call to do something I don’t know what is.

“You either care about protecting kids or you don’t. You either care about having an open, honest conversation about what is going on in our society, or you don’t, but please don’t tell me you care about the safety of children if you’re not willing to have a conversation about keeping them safe in a place that should be a sanctuary.”

Whitmer, fighting tears, said Biden had called to offer condolences and support.

“Our Spartan community and Michiganders across the state are devastated,” she said, referring to the nickname of Michigan State’s sports teams. “Spartans will cry and hold each other a little closer. We will mourn the loss of beautiful souls and pray for those fighting for their lives in the hospital.”

The chief medical officer at EW Sparrow hospital in Lansing, Denny Martin, said four of the five wounded required surgery and all remained in critical condition.

The Michigan State interim president, Teresa Woodruff, said all classes were canceled until at least Monday.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of Tuesday there had been at least 67 mass shootings in the US in 45 days in 2023. The archive defines a mass shooting as one in which four people are wounded or killed, not counting any shooters.”


Note the Guardian: Reuters contributed reporting


Sources:
Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/14/shooting-michigan-state-university-gretchen-whitmer
Fox: Michigan Gov. Whitmer blames ‘uniquely American problem’ in wake of deadly university shooting
Wall Street Journal: Mass Shootings Are American Problem, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Says

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