Anthony Dwayne McRae was charged with a gun crime in 2019 and had frequent run-ins with police over driving offenses. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Corrections)

LANSING — Police on Tuesday morning identified 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae as the lone suspect in a Monday night shooting at Michigan State University that left three students dead and five others injured.

This story also appeared in Bridge Michigan

McRae was a Lansing resident who shot and killed himself after being confronted by police off campus early Tuesday after responding to a caller tip. 

He was arrested in 2019 for possessing guns without a concealed carry permit, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Gautz told Bridge Michigan on Tuesday. 

Court records show McRae was initially charged with a felony in district court but later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in circuit court. He was put on probation in 2019 and was discharged from it in 2021.

On Jan.7, 2019, a police officer found McRae outside an abandoned building around 1:30 a.m. and stopped him for questioning. McRae acknowledged he had a gun without a concealed carry permit, claiming he brought the weapon with him in “fear for his safety” while out buying cigarettes, Gautz said.

He had four counts of driving while his license was suspended, Gautz said. Court records indicate he had several run-ins with local police for speeding, driving without insurance and other motor vehicle offenses. He pleaded guilty to those charges in Eaton County in 2006 and 2008 and in Ingham County in 2007 and 2008.

After McRae killed himself on Tuesday, police recovered a weapon and are still investigating whether it was the firearm used in the crime, MSU deputy police chief Chris Rozman told reporters in a Tuesday morning briefing.

McRae had “no affiliation” with the university, Rozman added, noting the suspect was not a current or former student, faculty or staff member. 

“We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point,” he said. 

All five injured students were rushed to the hospital on Monday night and remained in critical condition as of Tuesday morning, said Dr. Denny Martin, interim president and chief medical officer at Sparrow Hospital.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who joined police at MSU on Tuesday morning, said she had spoken about the shooting with President Joe Biden, who “pledges his support and the thoughts of an entire nation.”

Whitmer mourned the “loss of beautiful souls” and the injured students who continue to fight for their lives.

“As parents, we tell our kids, it’s gonna be OK. We say that all the time. But the truth is, words are not good enough. We must act, and we will,” the governor said.

Police say the shooter, believed to be McRae, first opened fire around 8:30 p.m. in Berkey Hall, an academic building on the north side of the campus that borders downtown East Lansing. 

Authorities who responded to emergency calls from Berkey Hall encountered “several students who were injured,” Rozman said, confirming that two students were killed in the academic building. 

While police were responding to the Berkey Hall shooting, they received additional reports of another shooting at the MSU Union building, just to the west, and believe the suspect then fled on foot. One other student died there at the Union, Rozman confirmed. 

McRae, the suspect, was located at around 11:35 p.m about five miles from campus at a building near Lake Lansing and Larch roads, Rozman said, explaining McRae died of a self-inflicted gun-shot wound. 

Police had released surveillance footage images of the suspected shooter at 11:18 p.m.

“It was shortly after we released it that he was recognized by an alert citizen,” Rozman said. “…That was exactly what we were trying to achieve by releasing that picture.”

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