Michigan State vigil honors mass shooting victims as Whitmer, Izzo give emotional remarks

Michigan State University held a vigil on Wednesday at The Rock to support the victims and survivors of the mass shooting on Monday, Feb. 13.

The vigil was held to honor and remember the students involved in the shooting as they work to nurture and heal from the tragedy. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan State University men's basketball coach Tom Izzo.  

Brian Fraser, Arielle Anderson, and Alexandria Verner were all identified as the three students who died on Monday, Feb. 13. Verner graduated from Clawson High School in 2020. Fraser and Anderson both graduated high school in 2021. Fraser attended Grosse Pointe South, while Anderson went to Grosse Pointe North.

Whitmer echoed a refrain she has been promoting - that the time for only "prayers and thoughts is over," and that they lack meaning without action behind it. The governor has been pushing for gun reform laws and has hinted that following the Oxford and MSU tragedies - and with a Democrat-led control in the State House and Senate, the time to act is now. 

"It's not going to be okay with just words and the time for only prayers and thoughts is over," Whitmer said. "The Rock yesterday said ‘How many more?’ How many more grieving parents and kids. How many more cities, towns and schools will be (unintelligible) for shootings. How many more until we work together on common sense reform. We don't know - but what we do know is we can't continue to live like this. 

"We know that we will keep showing up for one another, we will keep working to keep you safe, and we won't stop until the job is done. And we know there is much goodness and light in this community and it outshines the darkness. And we know that we are Spartan-strong."

Izzo spoke about the need to come together as a community, reflecting on how proud he was of how it has responded in the wake of such tragedy. He also shared that his son, Steven, walked into one of the buildings just minutes after the shooting happened. 

Izzo also praised the first responders and medical workers for their courage and bravery, while admitting that emotions are heavy for everyone right now.

"We're Spartan-tough, Spartan-strong," he said. "If you need proof, look at all of us standing here tonight. We've come for many different reasons - to heal, to grieve, to honor our victims. To stand up to fear, which you are going to have to do a lot in your life. Whatever you are feeling it is all valid. Emotions are different for each and every person. 

"I cry in front of my team, I cry on national TV, don't be afraid to show your emotions. We all process trauma in a very different way, I am just glad we are all here tonight."

The shooter has been identified as a 43-year-old man with no affiliation with the university. A motive remains unknown in the deadly shooting.  Anthony McRae lived in Lansing and had a criminal background before somehow acquiring two pistols including one in his backpack, and several magazines of ammunition.

First responders were also recognized for their lifesaving actions in the vigil which will include several leaders from the university:

  • Rema Vassar, Ph.D., chair, MSU Board of Trustees
  • Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., MSU interim president
  • Jo Kovach, president, Associated Students of Michigan State University
  • Hannah Jeffery, president, Council of Graduate Students
  • University chaplain
  • Other student leaders

The investigation into a motive while the five other shooting victims critically wounded fight to recover, is ongoing. 

A GoFundMe page has links for places to donate if you would like to help.