ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Brandi Huyser spent hours Monday night on her phone, checking in constantly with her two children at Michigan State University after a shooting that killed three students and injured five others.
“I think the saddest thing or the scariest thing as a parent is that you’re not there. You can’t help them make a choice. They’re going to have to make these choices on their own,” Huyser of Caledonia said.
Her daughter Jayden is a senior at MSU and her son Justin is a freshman. As police searched for the killer, both sheltered in place, Jayden at her off-campus home and Justin at the fraternity house where he is a pledge. Jayden told her mother that she and her five friends had an escape route planned out just in case. Justin reassured her that he and the 70 fraternity brothers had a plan to defend themselves.
“At the end of the day, you just want to hear their voices and we were able to hear both of their voices,” Huyser said.
The hours went by. The fear remained.
“There was a pure sense of devastation once we started receiving Snapchat and other social media from our kids, from their friends who were across the campus,” Huyser said.
The worst moment came with the campus safety warning that emphasized three words:
run, hide, fight. It’s the method police urge people to use in active shooter situations — run away from danger as the first option, hide if you can’t and fight back if you must.
“That was a turning point for me to say this is real, this is happening. This isn’t something you read about or see on the news,” Huyser said.
The Huysers’ and thousands of other sets of eyes were glued to cellphones, scanning texts and social media posts.
“This is an event that will be etched in their hearts for the rest of their lives. You can’t take that from them,” Huyser said. “Things will never be normal. But it will be a new normal. And I believe wholeheartedly that their resilience will carry them through, as will the support they receive from the entire community.”
By early morning it was over. The suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Lansing, about 4 miles from campus.
The Huyser children got in the car and drove home to West Michigan and into the arms of their parents.
“I think the hugs last night were… It was bittersweet because I’m hugging my child,” Huyser said, her voice cracking as she fought back tears. “And there’s parent out there that don’t get that chance.”