Michigan State shooting: Alerts to students delayed as police rushed to campus

Every officer on duty rushed to confront the gunman because they were delayed in their initial attempt to warn the students on campus at Michigan State University — EAST LANSING.

Deputy Police Chief Chris Rozman told Michigan Bridge that “all officers heroically went toward the threat” after the gunman fired shots at Berkey Hall, where two students were killed, at 8:18 p.M.

Rozman stated, “an off-duty colleague who was contacted by responding officers was able to issue an initial alert from his personal computer, as there was no one at the main office with the ability to access the necessary computer system for sending an emergency alert to students, given the intense physical reaction.”

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  • The message “Run. Hide. Fight” was transmitted to students at 8:31 p.M.

    Anthony McRae, identified later as the gunman, killed Brian Fraser, a third-year student, in Grosse Pointe Park before entering the Union MSU in Lansing.

    The initial notification of the suspected gunmen on campus was delayed, leaving the MSU police with unclear information about the staffing situation and how little time had passed since the warning to students.

    The accounting department of MSU follows a series of complaint processes, questioning students who have received an email rather than a text message to address the issue of why they were not notified sooner about the shooting incidents in some cases, instead of using a more immediate form of communication such as text messages.

    At a campus town-hall meeting last week, Maren Freifeld, a student, mentioned, “Besides being unaware of the places to stay away from, we experienced a collective duration of 15 minutes without any knowledge of the situation.”

    “I don’t know who was (dispatching) those emails, but that was a tough failure.”

    Whitmer Gretchen, the Governor of MSU, along with numerous public officials, have praised the overwhelming response from multiple law enforcement agencies to help protect and assist the flooded campus students in their efforts to find the shooter.

    Confronted by law enforcement, the assailant took his own life off-campus hours after the shooting incident. In addition, five other students were shot and sustained critical injuries by the perpetrator.

    Rema Vassar, the president of the Michigan State Board of Trustees, informed Bridge Michigan last week that the police carried out their duties in accordance with their training and preparation.

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    “Is there room for improvement? That remains to be determined.”

    Prior to the Feb. 13 shooting, the university was endeavoring to enhance campus security by establishing a centralized security operation center that will ultimately be manned around the clock by a permanent staff member who, among other responsibilities, will be assigned with issuing emergency notifications, as stated by Rozman.

    “It’s simply unfortunate it wasn’t prepared the previous week,” expressed Andrew Miller-Thomas, a 21-year-old student who was present in the MSU Union when McRae commenced shooting.

    Miller-Thomas informed Bridge that he had already received a warning from a fellow student after departing from his University Activities Board meeting. The initial notification from the MSU police on Feb. 13 was deemed irrelevant to him when it reached his phone.

    I basically walked into the hallway where the shooter was before a guy stopped me and told me how Miller-Thomas said he returned to the meeting room to help his colleagues barricade the door and explain what was going on at the Union.

    According to interviews and public records, it has been revealed that the university did not request the assistance of state police or the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office to utilize a state system that had the capability to send more noticeable phone notifications to individuals in close proximity to the East Lansing campus. A review conducted by Bridge indicates that students are required to actively choose to receive text message alerts at MSU, whereas the default communication method is through emails.

    Miller-Thomas expressed, “In my opinion, Michigan State executed almost everything correctly,” however, she also raised concerns about the absence of a public announcement system in the MSU Union to alert students. She acknowledged the police’s commendable and swift response to the shooting incident.

    “It was simply the absence of readiness in regards to simple tasks they could have completed.”

    Within seconds of the first message being sent at 8:31 p.M., The news spread rapidly through social and personal networks, causing an immediate explosion of messages among family and friends across the Michigan State campus. It is important to ensure that this information is accurate.

    In 2014, it took MSU police four minutes to issue a warning about a gunman, sparking a false alarm and causing a lockdown in Union. However, in the past, similar alerts have been issued by the university’s police at a significantly faster rate.

    The police sent a message to the students, explaining that there was no actual danger and ordering them to lift the second alert. After six minutes, the students were told to secure themselves in place. It was reported that the gunman carrying a ceremonial replica gun was actually a member of the ROTC.

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    The university hasn’t changed its alert protocols much in the past nine years, but Rozman said they were likely able to issue a faster notification in that case because of the reported threat mid-day.

    During “business hours,” he informed Bridge that there are additional staff members sitting in front of a computer who possess the capability to initiate an alert.

    Universities are required to maintain an emergency notification system for students under a federal law, which also mandates that they provide annual fire and crime reports.

    However, the law does not mandate text notifications, and MSU has traditionally chosen to send alerts to student email accounts.

    MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen informed that during freshman orientation, MSU encourages all students to opt-in to receive text messages alerts from MSUALERT. These alerts can be received by signing up and include community members, family, friends, and anyone else. Additionally, students can opt-in to receive these alerts at a later time as well.

    The university issued several emergency alerts and Twitter messages due to individuals of questionable intent and inaccurate claims of gunfire, as well as a lengthy search for the perpetrator.

    Olsen stated, “Let’s bring the issue to the attention of the decision we made earlier,” some students may have reported that we were getting some, but the majority of students in the sheltered place were obviously “The.

    On February 13th, at 8:40 PM, Michigan State University also utilized its voluntary text-message system to send a public safety alert in East Lansing after nine minutes.

    Since September 1, Michigan State has sent 18 alerts ranging from reports of high water causing road closures to two welcomed assaults and an armed robbery with “gunshots fired,” as well as stolen mopeds.

    Bridge mentioned that in a busy email inbox, it is simple to miss email notifications, as conveyed by individuals who did not subscribe to text alerts. Miller-Thomas stated that on campus, there is a slight sense of exhaustion among students who believe they receive an excessive amount of texts. He and his fellow students mockingly joked about the notifications in the freshman dormitories.

    ‘Public danger warning’ system not activated.

    Under a 2016 Michigan law, individuals whose mobile phones were connected to a nearby tower could have also utilized a state-operated network to transmit “public threat alerts” to the university.

    Moreover, as per the Michigan State Police, Ingham County had the option to utilize the state system for disseminating notifications on behalf of MSU, as it is the designated emergency management agency for the region. Furthermore,

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    Olsen, the representative, expressed that the university is currently examining the system that allows our local 9-1-1 dispatch center to have access to conversations during the shooting incident at MSU, and we may be able to see what we can do going forward.

    “As stated by Rozman, the deputy police chief of MSU, ‘enhancing our response and utilizing various systems, we constantly strive to assess methods, even though the utilization of that system is not currently aligned with our policies.'”

    “So… That could be one aspect that we consider in the future.”

    Opting in is not necessary. Additionally, unlike MSU messages, the notifications resemble text messages but have increased visibility as they effectively dominate an individual’s phone with alarms and vibration. This government-operated system is intended to distribute public threat notifications in a comparable manner to AMBER Alerts.

    Years in the past, Michigan legislators granted permission to local law enforcement agencies to seek the utilization of the apparatus subsequent to a tragic incident in Kalamazoo County, where Jason Dalton, an Uber driver, caused the demise of six individuals and harmed two additional individuals.

    Local requests for the option to alert the public of an active shooter threat have rarely been used since Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the law after her predecessor’s five-year term in 2021.

    David Maturen, a former state representative and one of the legislative sponsors of the 2016 law, stated that he is not sure why situations like the MSU shooting have not been used.

    “It was meant to be a coordinated alert so that anybody within a community would know” and “take caution,” Maturen told Bridge.

    The public threat alert system, which is operated by the Michigan State Police, can be used to warn about an identifiable and specific threat, such as a mass bombing or shooting, or an active shooter.

    Numerous alerts, whether they were weather-related or test-related, occurred in Michigan approximately 150 times since October 2020, indicating record-breaking incidents. Additionally, county-level emergency management agencies can also utilize the broader state alert system without requiring approval from the Michigan State Police.

    On January 11th, a man who was considered “armed and dangerous” was reported to be present in southeast Marshall by Calhoun County, slightly over a month prior to the shooting incident at Michigan State.

    The dangerous/wanted individual, who posed a danger to the community, has been located by law enforcement. This individual was located at 9:52 p.M. And was no longer a threat to the community.

    – Yue Stella Yu and Ron French made contributions to this story.

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