GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A social sciences professor said the shooting at Michigan State University that killed three people and injured five others is one more example of a systemic problem in America.
“I’m feeling a lot of things,” Frederick Engram, a professor of integrative studies in social science at MSU, told News 8 early Tuesday. “Distraught, confused, concerned, rage. Because this is not the first time we’ve seen this happen.”
He said each time the nation faces a mass shooting, the reaction seems the same: grief in the media for a few days and then a change in the conversation about what causes them.
“How do we begin this conversation? What do we say to our students?” Eagram said. “(The) majority of the students who are at Michigan State University now are Generation Z. So these students grew up with Sandy Hook. These students grew up with Parkland. These students grew up with mass shootings as a regular occurrence in their development. So how do we address the conversation? How do we make them feel safe when we ourselves don’t feel safe?”
He said a larger conversation about guns and their place in our society must be had, and it must be with politicians.
“If we don’t have that larger conversation, these instances are going to continue,” Eagram said. “Parents don’t send their children to school to be shot.”
He said people shouldn’t let their lives go on as if mass shootings are normal.
“All of this is life-changing,” he said. “Someone’s life, someone’s family’s life will forever be different after what happened today. That’s the focus that we must have: That this cannot be something that just goes away in the next news cycle. We have to keep the pressure on because we have to do something about the guns.”
STUDENT HID IN CRAWL SPACE
The shooting happened at two buildings on MSU’s East Lansing campus, with the first report of shots fired just before 8:20 p.m. Monday. In addition to the three killed, five were injured.
Eagram wasn’t on campus at the time but said his office is in Berkey Hall, where the first shots were fired. The other shots were at the MSU Union. Both buildings are open to the public.
Madison Adamini, an MSU student, was at work on campus when the shooting happened. When she got the alert from campus police to shelter in place, she saw a rush of about 30 people trying to get away.
“As we were looking around seeing who was in the building, a stampede of people came from the front of the building, past the office out the back doors,” she recalled.
Adamini ultimately hid with about 10 other people in a crawl space in the basement of Brody Hall.
“So we were 20 feet underground for three and a half hours,” she said.
She said she managed to keep her cool, but others were hysterical.
“A lot of people were crying and calling and stuff and everyone was worried their phone batteries were going to die down there. It’s kind of dark and scary,” she said.
Other workers who were already outside were texting them, passing along the latest information they were getting and sending photos. At one point, they heard Brody had been cleared, so they left the crawl space.
“Then we heard some stuff, went back into the crawl space and some of our other employees texted us saying what they heard, too,” Adamini said.
“Everybody was kind of taking turns (making phone calls). The service was really bad down there and we had one portable charger that everyone was sharing to keep their phones on,” Adamini recalled. “I was talking about Virginia Tech. My partner is from Virginia, and she said she didn’t think she could go there because of what had happened there. But we both went to MSU, so now we’re the same as all those other schools.”
“Our hearts go out to the victims and families of this senseless tragedy. Thank you to MSU, local, state, and national law enforcement agencies and first responders who worked to protect our MSU community. We thank our counseling service providers who will work to bring calm and care to everyone on campus in the coming days and weeks. In the difficult days to come, the MSU Board of Trustees are united to heal our university and the entire Spartan community.”Michigan State University Board of Trustees
About four hours after the first shots, the suspect, a 43-year-old man with no affiliation to the university, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound when confronted by police in Lansing, miles from campus.
“We don’t know why (the shooting happened) based on what has been shared publicly,” Eagram said.
He said he checked in with his teaching assistants and some students. All were OK.
The five people who were hospitalized remained in critical condition early Tuesday. A Sparrow Health spokesman said he couldn’t provide specifics about the nature or severity of their injuries. The hospital’s chief medical officer was expected to release more information later Tuesday morning.
“It’s a horrible tragedy. I can tell you that our caregivers have just been incredible. We had so many caregivers who were home, not at work, who called in or came in wanting to help,” spokesman John Foren said.
He said there were so many helpers that a lot were sent home.
MSU Police and Public Safety Interim President Teresa Woodruff are expected to hold a news conference at 8 a.m. It will stream live on woodtv.com.
—News 8’s Mara Peverini and Susan Samples contributed to this report.