Evil visits East Lansing


Ben Riley

The Spartan statue on the campus of Michigan State University.

Nathan Riley and Tyler Berens

West Ottawa Graduate Ben Riley received a tweet from Michigan State University: “Run, Hide, Fight.” 

   On Monday, February 13 at 8:30 pm, police reported shots fired at Berkey Hall. Minutes later, police confirmed shots at the MSU Union.

   The suspect evaded authorities at both locations, so the manhunt ensued. Mass confusion plagued the students, faculty, and parents. “Everyone was on social media spreading information, mostly misinformation. Everyone was scared and trying to figure out what was going on,” a current MSU student said. 

   Students reported multiple shooters around campus to police, increasing the confusion. “As time passed, more people started to panic and there were words that were said out of frustration. Nobody knew the right thing to do because nobody knew where the shooter was,” Riley said.

   Riley hid in Akers Dining Hall immediately after the first shots. “People started to raise their voices and eventually an argument broke out over whether or not to barricade the door. People started to move tables which created a ton of noise,” Riley said. The noise and confusion caused someone to yell out, interpreting the ruckus as gunshots. 

   “Then all hell broke loose and the shout caused everyone to stampede out the door,” Riley said. The tables and chairs barricading the door that prevented anyone from entering also prevented over 100 students from exiting. Panicked students tore down the barricade trying to find any way to escape.

   “Once we made it out of Akers, we were met by police who responded to the ‘shots fired’ and were told to go across the street by the field and parking garage,” Riley said. Police told the group of confused students to lay down in a field near Akers. After feeling exposed there, Riley, along with 20 others, hid in a parking garage. Then they separated into smaller, less noticeable groups. “After another long hour, we could go back to my friend’s room in Akers after the police had searched and cleared that building,” Riley said.

   The entire campus felt stunned by the events. “It was very surreal. I couldn’t process that it was actually happening. You hear it happen to everyone else, but not at your own school, a short walk away,” a current MSU student said.

   Text and calls from worried parents flooded the phones of students. “The whole thing is so surreal. I kept asking myself, ‘Is this really happening? Who could do such a thing?’ I could feel my heart beating out of my chest,” Michigan State parent Heather Postma said.

   Finally, after nearly four hours of waiting, MSU lifted the shelter in place. The imminent danger had passed, and the MSU community let out a temporary sigh of relief. 

   “For me and many other students, I don’t think our amazing campus will ever feel the same. Having to walk by the place where our peers were shot and killed is going to be a long recovery process for all of us,” West Ottawa Graduate Tyler Postma said.

   While the search for the shooter ended, the long road of recovery for the students and staff at MSU just began.