MSU students recount ‘terrifying’ hours under lockdown

LANSING, MI – FEBRUARY 13: Michigan State University students hug during an active shooter situation on campus on February 13, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan. Five people were shot and the gunman still at large following the attack, according to published reports. The reports say some of the victims have life-threatening injuries. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (NewsNation) — Jaylyn Chavarria was barricaded in the John F. Schaefer Law Library for four hours with about 20-30 other individuals when reports of an active shooter sent the Michigan State University campus into lockdown.

“I’m still pretty much in shock,” Jaylyn, a senior at the university, said. “I really didn’t believe it when my friend came in and showed me the email.”

She explained that there have unfortunately been reports of active shooters on campus before, and said that she thinks almost everyone who saw that email couldn’t have imagined that it would turn into something so deadly.

Jaylyn did not hear gunshots herself but said she was in constant communication with students all across the campus — mostly random texts to let each other know they were still OK.

“I did have the live police transmitter audio on. Everyone in that room was just following along with everything to see where the next location may have been,” Jaylyn said.

Jaylyn’s mother, Jennifer Garratt, said she was glad her daughter was safe.

“It’s obviously a scary time to get a text from your daughter like that. And so we were continually just texting and she was giving me updates,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer said she couldn’t go to bed until she knew her daughter was safe.

Jaylyn said she and her roommates tried to remain calm until the news could be confirmed, especially since there was a lot of misinformation going around. She didn’t get home until after 1 a.m. and didn’t get much sleep since they were still in shock about the entire situation.

Graduate student Brianna Finn had a similar reaction to the active shooter alert as Jaylyn: “You almost don’t believe it when you read an email like that.”

Brianna was at home in her Okemos, Michigan, apartment when she received an email from the university that there was an active shooter on campus. She said she locked the doors, closed the blinds and turned off all her lights.

“You never know where things are going to head,” Brianna said. “Just a terrifying night starting at 8:30 p.m.”

Brianna was an undergrad at MSU before she began graduate school. All night long, Brianna said she was checking on classmates, friends, coworkers and even her friends’ siblings who were current students at the university.

“Honestly, for the amount of hours that it went on, you don’t feel, you know, very safe at all,” Brianna said. “Especially, you know, hearing which direction he’s going in and you know, different things on social media. You just never know what direction it is.”

However, Brianna said seeing the police response gave her reassurance that the situation was being handled properly.

“I’ve been here for six years now. This is where I live, this is my home. This has never, ever happened,” she said.

Brianna said it’s more common to see people in Berkey Hall for that is a more common space for clubs to host meetings and students to gather; however, the union is a more secluded area for students, she said. Brianna explained that the union is a place where people go for late-night snacks or where they go to study all night.

“It’s just incredibly sad to see a building that I’ve had such pure fond memories and turn into a place of absolute fear for so many people,” she said.

Marvin Pride, another graduate student at MSU, was at Holden Hall when he received the email that everyone needed to shelter in place or run, hide and, if need be, fight. 

He and his coworker barricaded themselves in a closet area of an office in the dorm building, using an ironing board to prop up against the door while they moved a dresser to block the door.

“At first, I kind of downplayed it because we had a couple of little shootings in downtown East Lansing, so I kind of downplayed it,” Marvin said. But I looked into the email and when it said run, hide and fight, I kind of knew it was like a real deal at that point.”

He said his friends and family kept blowing up his phone, asking if he was OK. 

“I’ve been going to MSU for almost five years now. I’ve never heard of a shooting in East Lansing. And I was just like, I never thought it would happen on campus,” he said. 

But Marvin wasn’t just scared, he was angry. He questioned why a stranger would come to their campus and hurt innocent people. 

“This morning when I woke up, I was shedding tears. I cried for I think straight two hours because I just couldn’t believe that this happened on campus,” he said. “I’ve lived in East Lansing for all four years I’ve been at Michigan State and nothing has ever happened like this. I’ve always felt safe walking on campus.”

Michigan State University President Teresa Woodruff said resources will be available to students and faculty at the Hannah Center, starting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, to help them through this time.

All campus activities have been canceled for the next 48 hours as police continue to investigate.


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