A view from half a mile away

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A picture inside a house on the morning of February 14th, the day after the tragic shooting that took place on the campus of Michigan State
A picture of the inside of my house the morning after the shooting.

“That’s a lot of cop cars racing towards downtown. Something really f****ed up must be happening.”

Those were the exact words that I muttered to myself as I watched four cop cars race down Albert St toward downtown East Lansing. I happened to be out at my car as they whizzed past, taking a baggy full of gift cards out of my car so that I could order food. 

I went back inside and forgot about the whole thing for a minute as I scrolled through DoorDash attempting to find the perfect meal. After a few unsuccessful minutes, I decided to step outside and get some fresh air to see if that would help.

As I was out there, I could still hear the sirens. They weren’t overpowering, but there seemed to be a lot of them. I looked around the sky to see if maybe a building or house had caught on fire, but there wasn’t anything. So, I figured that there was probably some situation happening downtown and went back inside.

Still uneasy about the number of sirens I had heard, I hopped on to an app that’s only there for when I’m really bored, YikYak. I figured if anyone knew what was happening, they would put it on YikYak. And I was right.

The first couple of messages talked about an active shooter at Berkey Hall. I figured that must be wrong because I would’ve gotten an MSU Alert notification and there hadn’t been one. But as I kept scrolling, everyone continued to post about how there was a shooter. It was then that my roommate walked out and confirmed that the reports of an active shooter were true. 

As reality sunk in and the official MSU Alert went out, I was frantically trying to find any sort of coverage of what was happening. I went through all the major cable stations to find nothing. I looked online. Nothing. Then a link was sent in our roommate group chat to the police scanner. I quickly turned it on and began listening.

Slowly but surely, my two roommates (Chandler and Nick) that were home and I stopped what we were doing and joined together in our family room area. The only time we would leave would be to answer a call from our families to reassure them that we were safe and that we were taking all the necessary precautions, such as barricading our doors, covering the windows, and equipping all three of us with baseball bats. 

Eventually, we had one person playing the police radio through their phone’s speakers, so we could quickly make the entire house quiet. We were all texting friends and family, either to let them know that we were safe, to check in on them and see if they were safe, or to find out any new information that we might have missed.

As all of this texting and calling was happening, we waited. 

We waited for the all-clear. We waited for someone on Twitter or Instagram to tell us that the suspect had been apprehended and it was safe to return to normal life. 

We sat there and waited. And waited. And waited.

Sometimes, we would have small conversations to break the tension. There was even the occasional joke about some dumb sports thing that had happened recently. But for the most part, it was silent in our household. We were all too busy texting or just contemplating if what was happening was real or just a really bad dream that we all happened to be experiencing. 

Through it all, we kept a very close ear on the police scanner. We live over by Stoddard Park, so we’re roughly 0.5 miles east of Berkey. While listening in terror, it seemed as though most of the action was moving away from us. 

And then it wasn’t. 

Nine-One-One call from Snyder Hall and Phillips Hall began to come in. Calls also came from Akers, Hubberd, IM East and Shaw. Then came the string of calls from Cedar Village.

That’s when everyone in our house tensed up. If someone was shooting there and ran north across Grand River Ave, they’d be in our neck of the woods. We didn’t even know how many people there were participating in this act. What if there were multiple people and they needed a place to hide out? What if they began to break down our door to find cover?

Eventually, the police cleared Cedar Village and everyone in the house began to breathe a little easier. We continued to wait. 

Then came the news. The suspect was dead. He had shot himself. The nightmare was over.

The rest of the night was unusually quiet if compared to a typical night, but it made all the sense in the world on that night. No stupid jokes were being made. No sports were being played on the TV. No discussion about how the Lions were going to win the NFC North. Nothing. Just a whole lot of looking around, thankful that we were all okay and still slightly on edge just in case something else happened.

It’s been over a month since the tragic shooting, and it still doesn’t feel real. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully put into words how I feel about that night. Most of me feels like I didn’t really go through it because I was so far away. That’s a weird feeling to have, let me tell you. I remember barricading our door. I remember seeing my roommates with bats. I remember listening to the police scanner as my loved ones. And I know that I went through it.

Others will have different stories to tell.. And most of them have already probably talked to more media reporters than they ever wanted to. But I wanted to talk about my experience and so this was it.. And while there are other details I could add, I think that this is enough for now. 

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