EAST LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - As Michigan State University continues to try to heal from the shooting on campus on Monday night, we're learning about the shooter, Anthony McRae, but the motive for what led to the shooting remains unknown at this time.
McRae shot eight students, killing three, Monday night. During a press briefing on Thursday, it was revealed that the 43-year-old had two legally purchased 9 mm and backpack full of loaded ammunition. Deputy Chief Chris Rozman confirms that McRae bought the guns himself.
McRae killed himself in front of police when he was confronted roughly 4 miles away from campus in the city of Lansing. Chief Ellery Sosebee said McRae was found with two loaded 9 mms, a full and loaded magazine in his coat pocket, 8 loaded magazines in his backpack, a pencil bag of loose ammunition, two empty magazines, and a two-page note in his wallet.
Part of the note indicated some kind of a possible reaons for the shooting but police said they have not yet confirmed a motive for the shooting.
The note also indicated a threat to a school district in New Jersey, which McRae has a connection to previously in his life, but they are still investigating why he would do so.
What was on Anthony McRae's note?
On Tuesday, the day after the shooting, it was unveiled that a note was in his pocket, which included a threat to a New Jersey school. But it was announced on Thursday that the note was two pages and included a listing of businesses, a church, and the school.
Rozman also said there is an indication on the note that could have pointed to a motive but they're not able to confirm details at this point. The motive is still being investigated but it's believed that McRae applied for a job on campus and was rejected - but that's still being investigated, police said.
"It appears, based on content of the note, that he was slighted in some way by people and businesses," Rozman said. "Did mental health amplify that? We're not sure. That's the question on all of our minds. We're working out best to try to determine that as best as possible."
Police learned McRae was an employee at a Meijer warehouse and that he had issues with some employees from other businesses.
"Today, we've shared what we can, in terms of the content of the note," Rozman said.
How did McRae escape MSU campus?
At 8:18 p.m., the first 911 calls came in alerting police to a shooter on campus. It would be nearly four hours until police were able to find McRae, where he ultimately ended his own life. That was almost 4 miles away from MSU, in the neighboring city of Lansing.
Rozman was asked why police focused their search on campus.
"Due to the number of reports, we thought he was still on campus. There was no indication that he left campus. There were so many calls of potential shots fired on campus, we deployed resources but we didn't receive any calls, valid or not, of him being spotted off campus," Rozman said.
As more neighboring police personnel arrived, Rozman said police were able to deploy resources farther from campus and that the goal was to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.
What they didn't know, Rozman said, was that McRae was gone before police even arrived.
"He had already left the building when officers got to Berkey," he said.
Rozman said it took a bit of time to track down an accurate image of the shooter through all of the surveillance cameras in both Berkey Hall and the MSU Union.
"As soon as we located image, immediately pushed it out on social media," he said.
Around 11 p.m., police released a surveillance image of the man - and just 17 minutes later, a Lansing witness called police about a possible sighting. Police immediately responded and confronted him - but he killed himself without saying a word to police.
According to police, they believe he was walking home when he was spotted by the witness.
Police say MSU shooter had no friends
According to police, McRae acted alone, despite the note in his pocket reading he was "a leader of 20 killers".
Michigan State Police Lt. Rene Gonzalez said they were able to determine that there was not another threat based on evidence at the scene where McRae took his own life. As they investigated his home, they interviewed McRae's father and learned that he 'had no friends'.
According to Gonzalez, McRae's father said this son doesn't have any friends and spent most of his time inside of his bedroom. Gonzalez said McRae ate and went to the bathroom in there and that he never left his room.
Police are still looking into McRae's history to determine if he had mental illness. But police said they don't have anything pointing to that at this time.
A neighbor told FOX 2 police were called on McRae because he would shoot guns out of the backdoor of his house. However, Lansing Police said they have no call logs showing that to be true.
Lansing Police detail call history
Sosebee detailed the number of encounters they have had with McRae, dating back to 2005 and, despite the neighbors' claims, they were never called to his home for gunshots.
In 2005, police said they talked with McRae about a larceny - but did not provide details. In 2006 and 2007, police said he was issued a total of three traffic violations. Police said they had no contact with McRae until 2019 when he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.
He later pleaded that charge down to a misdemeanor, which meant he was still able to legally buy a handgun.
He was ultimately sentenced to probation from October 2019 to May 2021.
The Ingham County Prosecutor released a statement on Tuesday that read McRae legally had the gun but did not have a concealed carry permit, as required by law. But the guilty plea was agreed upon by both sides.
"Any offender who is convicted and facing sentencing in Michigan is provided a Sentence Guideline (SGL) score during their pre-sentence investigation. The SGL score provides the court with guidance for a sentence recommendation. It is a routine matter in nearly all criminal cases that the recommended sentence is not the same as the legal maximum. Even if he were convicted by a jury of the original charge, Anthony McRae would not have been recommended for a jail or prison sentence. The sentencing guideline score would have been the same if he had been convicted of either the original charge (Carrying a Concealed Weapon) or the offense for which he was convicted (carrying a firearm in a vehicle)."