GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Body camera video shows the 2019 arrest of the man who opened fire at Michigan State University on Monday, killing three students and injuring five more.
Anthony McRae was arrested around 2 a.m. June 7, 2019, by a Lansing Police Department officer. In a police report, the officer said he was in the area on patrol after recent burglaries when he saw McRae and stopped to investigate.
Body camera video released by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday shows the officer come upon McRae sitting on the steps outside an abandoned building and smoking a cigarette. The officer got out of his car and approached McRae, conversationally asking him what was going on and if he worked there.
“No,” McRae replied, explaining he had just left a nearby convenience store.
“You got any weapons on you right now?” the officer asked.
“Huh?” said McRae.
“You got any weapons on you or anything like that?” the officer repeated.
McRae hesitated a moment but then admitted, “Yeah.”
“What do you have?” the officer asked.
“A .380,” McRae replied.
The officer detained McRae, asking him to put his hands behind his back. McRae did so without objection. The officer asked if McRae had a concealed pistol license. McRae said he did not.
“I’m working on it,” he said.
“I hear what you’re saying, man. Where’s your .380 at?” the officer asked.
“In my coat pocket,” McRae told him.
McRae said the gun was registered to him.
The officer patted McRae down and arrested him, explaining it was because he was carrying a concealed weapon without a CPL. After McRae was read his Miranda rights, he again admitted he knew he didn’t have a CPL and he knew he needed one.
Asked why he was carrying it, he replied, “Protection.”
McRae told the officer he bought the gun that March at a Lansing pawn shop not far from his home for $214.
Throughout the interaction, both the officer and McRae were calm and conversational. In a second bodycam clip, the officer agreed to hide McRae’s bike in the bushes by the abandoned building so McRae could come back and get it after he got out of jail.
Part of the audio of the bodycam video when McRae was listing personal information like his birthday and address was redacted before its release.
The police report says the gun, a Ruger LCP .380, was loaded. McRae had a second loaded clip in his pocket. Police released a photo of that gun and 13 bullets. The photo redacted the serial number on the gun.
Court records released by the prosecutor’s office show McRae’s attorney suggested the arrest was unreasonable, saying the officer did not have a good reason to stop or search his client. In the bodycam video, the officer said McRae was loitering and also reached toward his pocket as the officer approached.
McRae said in the video he reached to his pocket to show the officer the cigarettes he had just bought.
McRae was initially charged with a felony count of carrying a concealed weapon but ultimately pleaded down in October 2019 to a lesser possession charge. He was placed on probation, which ended in May 2021, and agreed to surrender the gun. Lansing police told News 8 Wednesday that they still have the Ruger LCP .380.
News 8 reached out to several prosecutors Wednesday seeking context, but none could say how the plea deal affected McRae’s right to buy another gun.
The prosecutor at the time was Carol Siemon, who has been criticized by the sheriff and a judge for leniency. Siemon, who retired late last year, did not immediately return calls for comment.
The Michigan Department of Corrections told News 8 that McRae did not have any problems while on probation and never failed a drug test.
Before the 2019 arrest, he had four previous misdemeanor charges for driving without a license between 2006 and 2008, all of them in Lansing or nearby Eaton County.
Police say McRae entered Berkey Hall at MSU around 8:20 p.m. Monday and started shooting. He then moved to the MSU Union and fired more shots. Nearly four hours after the shooting, McRae shot and killed himself when officers confronted him about 4 miles from campus in the city of Lansing.
Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser and Alexandria Verner, all of Southeast Michigan, were killed in the shooting. Five other students were shot and remained hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday.
McRae had no affiliation with the university. Why he did what he did remains unclear.
Family members say McRae suffered from mental illness but resisted their efforts to get him help. His father, with whom McRae lived, told NBC News that after his mother’s death in 2020, McRae grew “evil and mean.”
Neighbors told News 8 that McRae was known to fire his gun outside his home.
“Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. Like whole rounds, a clip would go off into the ground or something,” one neighbor said. “It really puts chills down your back to know someone like that can live in your damn neighborhood and you don’t even know it.”
—News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.