EAST LANSING, Mich. – The gunman who killed three students and critically wounded five others at Michigan State University Monday night before turning the weapon on himself, would have been barred from owning a firearm at the time of the mass shooting had a progressive prosecutor not dropped felony weapons charges against him, according to reports.
Anthony McRae was arrested in 2019 with a loaded firearm near an abandoned building, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. The man reportedly shot and killed himself after opening fire and creating havoc on campus Monday evening. He has no known ties to the campus and police are still searching for a motivation.
“We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point,” MSU Police Interim Deputy Chief Chris Rozman said early Tuesday.
On June 7, 2019, McRae, 43, was charged with possession of a loaded firearm after police found him carrying the gun without a concealed weapons permit.
Although McRae was initially charged with a felony weapons offense, it was later reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement with the Ingham County District Attorney’s Office. Had the felony remained in place, he would have outlawed him from owning guns in the future if convicted, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The lesser offense does not prohibit gun ownership. McRae reportedly purchased another firearm after the plea agreement, according to an interview his father did with the Washington Post.
Former Ingham County District Attorney Carol Siemon, a Democrat whose office dropped the felony charge in lieu of a misdemeanor, had been criticized for being soft on crime.
Siemon retired at the start of the year after facing backlash from local elected officials for changing her office’s policy in 2021 regarding sentencing for people who commit crimes while carrying a firearm, regardless of whether it was used or not. The policy previously carried an automatic two year-sentence. However, the progressive prosecutor said it worsened racial disparities, Fox 47 reported at the time.
John Dewane, the current Ingham County Prosecutor said, “Mr. McRae would have been barred from legally purchasing, owning, or possessing a firearm if he would have been convicted of the [concealed weapons] charge. The misdemeanor conviction did not prevent him from purchasing, owning, or possessing a firearm after he successfully completed his terms of probation.”
After agreeing to plead guilty to the misdemeanor, McRae was placed on probation from Oct. 2019 through May 2021. He completed the terms of probation without any issues, the Michigan DOC confirmed, according to the New York Post.
However, once he was off probation, neighbors complained that McRae would dangerously fire off a gun in his backyard in 2021, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The three MSU murder victims were identified as students Brian Fraser, Arielle Diamond Anderson and Alexandria “Alex” Verner.
From left to right, Brian Fraser, Arielle Diamond Anderson and Alexandria “Alex” Verner were identified as the three MSU students murdered Monday night.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the five hospitalized victims remained in critical condition.
When McRae was arrested in 2019, he was carrying a loaded Ruger LCP .380 semi-automatic pistol, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Following the mass shooting and McRae’s subsequent suicide Monday night, police recovered the weapon he is believed to have used, but have not disclosed information about the firearm.