Father of MSU gunman said son ‘had his own world’

Anthony McRae, seen here in a 2019 mugshot, spent much of his time in his room playing video games, according to his father. (Courtesy Michigan Department of Corrections)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Four days after his son shot eight students at Michigan State University, killing three of them, Anthony McRae’s father struggles for answers.

He doubts he’ll ever get any.

“I said, ‘Oh my God,'” he told Nexstar’s WOOD on Friday. “It’s like a dream, like I’m dreaming. It don’t seem real, man.”

Michael McRae has seen the photographs of the three students who died at the hands of his son. The families of Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser and Alexandria Verner prepared for funerals.

“God bless the families,” Michael said.

It’s difficult for a father to blame his own son for something so awful, so he blames evil and the devil.

“It hurts. My son’s dead, too. All of them are dead,” he said. “What he did, God bless his soul, man, but we don’t know. Every day is a different day.”

Michael spoke to NewsNation affiliate WOOD by phone, saying he didn’t want his face shown.

“My son did that, not me. I don’t want to be on camera,” he said. He fears that someone might point and say, “‘There goes the guy’s father, we going to kill him,'” he said.

Michael said he last saw his son Monday morning, a little more than 10 hours before the shooting, saying he had no indication of what was about to happen. His 43-year-old son lived with him in a tiny home at the end of a dead-end street in Lansing, about 10 minutes from campus and just blocks from where he died by suicide.

“I raised my kids in church. So what happened to Anthony, what he did, I ain’t got no control over that. At all,” he said.

Michael said his son had lost his driver’s license, so he walked, rode his bike or took the bus when he went out. But mostly, he said, his son just sat in his bedroom and played video games.

“He lived a private life,” he said. “He was antisocial. He didn’t want to be around people. He was a good kid, but he had his own world.”

He said his son had grown sullen since his mom died in 2020.

“Sometimes people can’t take pressure. Mommy died. Ever since mommy died, he changed. That’s all I can say, man,” he said.

The last words he spoke to his son: Go out and get a job.

“(You) can’t stay home and stay in that room playing Nintendo games all day long, in that room all day long playing Nintendo games,” he said. “I said, get out, get some air or something, get out the room, get on the bus and get a job, man. Work. Come on, you can’t just sit in the room and be a turtle.”

Anthony had no history of violent crime. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to a plea-bargained high misdemeanor after his arrest for carrying a concealed weapon not far from his home. Police said he had legally bought the two 9mm handguns he armed himself with on Monday, though he hadn’t registered them. Authorities still haven’t determined a motive, though they found notes in McRae’s pockets that indicated he felt slighted by people or businesses.

“You don’t know what’s in his mind,” Michael McRae said when asked what made his son snap. “I’m shocked, too, man. You think I ain’t hurt? What he did?

“He knew right from wrong, but he went out and did something that was out of control,” he continued. “And it hurts. But what can we do, man, when your kid goes out and turns into a monster?

“All l can say is God bless everybody. It’s a nightmare but God knows we don’t ever know what’s on your kid’s mind to do.”

Michael added that he’s waiting for the hospital to release his son’s body to a funeral home so he can make arrangements to bury his son.

Crime

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