MSU professor recounts shooting 1 year later: 'I don’t want to go into that classroom'

A year has passed since a shooter opened fire on Michigan State University students in front Marco Díaz-Muñoz, an arts and humanities professor on campus.

While Room 114 in Berkey Hall used to be one of his favorite classrooms, the terror that unfolded there on Feb. 13, 2023 make it hard to go back.

"For me, the difficult day was yesterday – last night," Díaz-Muñoz said. "Because (the shooting) was on a Monday. It was the second Monday of February and everything that I did a year ago when the shooting took place is everything I did yesterday."

The anniversary of the mass shooting is especially difficult for the professor. Room 114 is where two of his students were killed and several others were injured.

"I was in the middle of the same lecture, showing the same images, giving the same explanation. And when the time was around 8:15 (p.m.) – that’s exactly when this person walked in a year ago and started shooting my students and creating a terrible tragedy," Díaz-Muñoz said. "So around 8:15 I kind of paused."

He teaches in a different building now and does not feel he could ever go back to Berkey.

"I don’t know when I will be willing to step in there. I definitely don’t want to go into that classroom," Díaz-Muñoz. "I don’t want to go into that classroom."

The shooter, Anthony McCrae, killed 19-year-old Arielle Anderson and 20-year-old Alex Verner inside Room 114. Several classmates were injured while trying to escape, breaking the windows to run for their lives.

A third MSU student, 20-year-old Brian Fraser, was killed at the nearby Student Union. 

The shooter later killed himself. 


MSU students honor victims of mass shooting, commiserate together one year after tragedy

The tragedy left another population of students afflicted by gun violence and traumatized by an all to familiar sight.

Now, the professor said, he occasionally connects with fellow survivors.

"My students – it’s interesting because they became like my family, and I know that I became like a parent figure to them," Díaz-Muñoz said. "Some of them said they wanted to see me in the fall. Some of them graduated. Some of them wrote me messages."

Since the shooting, changes have taken place on campus. 

University officials did their own deep dive into what went right and wrong that night and now 82% of the classroom doors in campus buildings can be locked from the inside. That was not the case a year ago; students had to use belts to secure doors during the shooting as they huddled in classrooms.

Key cards to access buildings have since been enforced, more security cameras were installed, a 24-hour real-time monitoring center was established, and emergency alerts were refined – along with other measures, according to MSU police. The university will continue taking action to make the campus safer.

"We can talk about putting locks in classrooms, putting in more cameras. That can deter. That can diminish the possibility, but it’s not going to eliminate it," Díaz-Muñoz said.

Government and societal failures are what lead to mass shooters, he added.

The professor has turned his trauma into action by testifying before state lawmakers in support of gun reform and the root causes of gun violence.

"Many people have been left in the margins, marginalized, ostracized, alienated – especially the mentally ill," Díaz-Muñoz said. "We have defunded programs that they need severely."

The MSU and Oxford mass shootings provided momentum in the legislature to pass a series of gun safety-related measures that went into effect on Feb 13. They include mandatory safe storage rules, expanded universal background checks, and extreme risk protection orders.