By Victoria Gladstone
The Michigan State University shooting on Monday seemed like a horrible yet distant event until the Ewing Police department announced on their Facebook the morning after that the shooter had left behind a note threatening two local middle schools.
The shooting resulted in three fatalities and five injured students as questions arise as to why the shooter had malicious intent against the Ewing public school district.
The shooter named Anthony McRae, 43, was a former resident of Trenton. McRae’s family had moved to East Lansing, Michigan in 2003, according to his mother’s obituary published by Riley Funeral Home.
More than ever, schools have become a target for mass shootings as we are proven again that gun violence has yet to cease.
In the last 57 years, there have been 12 shootings at colleges where more than three people were killed. Best Colleges reports show that within the years 2009 and 2020, 11% of the 93 mass shootings took place in schools.
With threats to student safety, all Ewing schools were closed on Tuesday, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to their most recent press release. Officers from the Ewing police department were deployed to the Ewing public and private schools.
Campus police dispatched several officers to patrol the College’s campus.
The campus community was alerted through a text message and email about a safety concern provided by the Ewing police department. The College’s police department determined that there was no threat to the school but locked all buildings for the time being with only swipe access granted.
Students attending the College only learned about the safety concern in the Ewing area when they had already entered the campus, perhaps on their walk to class.
Sophomore psychology and philosophy major Sarah Branco had learned about the recent threats while walking to the social sciences building for her morning class. It was upon arrival she realized that the “key access” granted to all students was not working properly.
“I was really taken aback that the school didn’t really do anything and once we got to the social sciences building, the doors were locked,” said Branco. “Our key cards weren’t working so it got really worrisome for all of us just standing outside in a group. Once the doors did open, everyone rushed in so it’s not like the key cards were helping at all.”
All of the buildings were granted “key access” for only about two hours before being unlocked at around 11:30 a.m.
Several students raised their concern as to why the College still chose to keep classes in person, as opposed to online where students can remain in a safer location.
“Of course since [the pandemic], I am under the impression that Zoom is still an option,” said Branco. “Why not just tell your students: ‘Hey, let’s get on Zoom.’”
Most classes have returned to an in-person setting, but the College has policies still in place in the event a professor needs to meet remotely.
Danna Aguilar, a sophomore political science major, had gotten the text alert around the time when she arrived for her on-campus job as an office assistant in the Education building.
“One of the professors I work with for the department said she had students texting and emailing her that they were going to be late because they did not have access to the building,” Aguilar said.
Especially during busier times of the day, there can be large crowds of students passing through buildings. To many students, the events of Tuesday were a wake-up call to recognize how dangerous the situation on campus could have been, in the event of an active shooter. Where would the students have gone if they were not near an unlocked building?
“I just think it’s frustrating because, in the case of an emergency, we’re locked out, so where do we go?” asked Aguilar.
The students of the College deserve to ask these questions and hear how their school is protecting them going forward so this never happens again.
Campus police have not followed up with any additional press releases on the matter. Chief Tim Grant will be giving a statement on the matter in the near future and cannot currently comment on the situation.