The gunman who killed three students and critically injured five others at Michigan State University may have targeted the school because it rejected him for a job opening in the past, authorities said Thursday.
Officials emphasized the job rejection, which hasn’t been confirmed, is just one potential motive “being investigated.” Among the others, according to Michigan State Police Lt. Rene Gonzalez, is that 43-year-old Anthony McRae suffered from mental illness.
While Gonzalez stopped short of releasing an official motive behind the shocking rampage, he detailed a note found on McRae after he shot himself in front of cops.
It mentioned a warehouse he used to work at, his church, and two schools in Ewing, New Jersey, where McRae once resided. The note indicated that he was upset with past employers he didn’t get along with, police said.
“It appears that he had some issues with the employees there where he was asked to leave,” Michigan State Police Lt. Rene Gonzalez said, referencing the warehouse job. “So it looks like possibly a motive for that was he felt slighted, and that’s kind of what the note indicated.”
Gonzalez said the note also mentioned McRae was part of a group of 20 others carrying out an attack. However cops were able to easily rule that out after speaking with McRae’s father, who said his son stayed in his room all day and had no friends, let alone 20.
“He ate, went to the bathroom in there,” Gonzalez said, citing what McRae’s father told detectives. “His father didn’t believe he had any friends let alone 20 of them that would help him… so we kind of determined that he was the lone shooter in this.”
Gonzalez said McRae carried out the attack with two 9 millimeter handguns that he’d purchased legally but never registered in Michigan. He also carried a backpack that was filled with loose ammunition and empty magazines.
Authorities quickly identified McRae as the suspect, and raided his bedroom in his father’s Lansing home on the night of the shooting, Gonzalez said. Investigators uncovered hoards of writings and journals, as well as a cell phone and fired shell casings.
But Gonzalez indicated that nothing found in the home gave authorities clear insight into what allegedly drove him to kill more than the two-page note found in his wallet.
“That was the note that indicated where he was going to visit and also kind of gave an indication of why, maybe a motive, but nothing we can actually confirm just yet,” Gonzalez said.
McRae’s father, Michael McRae, told NBC News that his son had become increasingly bitter, isolated, and “evil” after his mom died from a stroke in September 2020—shedding more light on the mental state of McRae.
“He was grieving his mom. He wouldn’t let it go. He got bitter, bitter and bitter. His mom died, and he just started getting evil and mean. He didn’t care about anything anymore,” the father said.
The three students killed in the massacre were identified Tuesday as Brian Fraser, Alexandria Verner and Arielle Anderson. Authorities haven’t identified the five victims who were hospitalized, but said Thursday that four remain in critical condition while one has been upgraded to “stable.”