GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (AP) — The first funerals were held Saturday for students who were killed in this week’s mass shooting at Michigan State University.
Mourners in the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Farms filed into St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church to remember 20-year-old sophomore Brian Fraser, who was one of three students killed in Monday’s attack.
“He’s one of those charismatic, smiling, humorous, good-natured young men that is hard not to like,” Father Jim Bilot said during Fraser’s service. “So this was a great gift he had, and he used that gift for the glory and honor of God because he honored the gift that had been given to him. He was very athletic, very competitive. I heard he wasn’t always that great in his sports, but certainly loved being part of the team.”
At the same time, a funeral was held for 20-year-old junior Alexandria Verner at the Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Clawson, a suburb a few miles (kilometers) to the northwest.
During that service, Verner’s family placed a small wooden cross with her name on it on the church’s remembrance wall.
“Al had lot of love. We have lots of love for her,” said Father Tony Richter, Guardian Angels Catholic Church pastor. “You learn love from a family. She saw something greater in mankind.”
They were among eight students who were shot in the attack at two buildings on the Michigan State campus in East Lansing, including five who were wounded but survived. A memorial service was scheduled for later Saturday for the third student killed, Arielle Anderson, The Detroit News reported. Her funeral is set for next week.
Four of the wounded students remained in critical condition Friday at a Lansing hospital. The fifth victim remained hospitalized in stable condition.
Police say Anthony McRae, a 43-year-old man with no connection to the school, walked into Berkey Hall where evening classes were being held and opened fire in a classroom. He then walked to the nearby MSU Student Union and fired more shots before fleeing.
After the attack, he walked a few miles (kilometers) toward his Lansing home. He said nothing before he killed himself after being confronted by police, authorities said.
Detectives found two handguns, ammunition and a note containing a possible motive for the attack. Police said it appeared from the note that McRae felt he had been slighted in some way by people or businesses, adding that he had no connection to the victims or the school and had worked at a grocery chain warehouse.
“This week, a lot of us didn’t have a whole lot of hope,” Richter said during Verner’s funeral. “It was not easy, and we even had doubt.”
“We also have to come together in faith,” he added. “We have to rely on it when we don’t know what to do or what the answers are. We also knew that Al had faith. Al had faith because she did things for others.”
Verner was a 2020 graduate of Clawson High School. She was studying integrated biology and anthropology, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Fraser previously attended Grosse Pointe South High School. He was president of Michigan State’s chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
At Fraser’s funeral, Bilot told fraternity members and others not to allow evil to make them “fearful.”
“To the community of Michigan State University, my heart just goes out to so many that are affected by this,” he said. “But to the students, to the frat brothers, please go back. Go back with determination. Go back with the confidence of the spirit of his love, of God’s love.”
Anderson graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School. Her family said in a statement that she was pushing to graduate early from Michigan State, hoping to become a surgeon as quickly as possible.
Saturday afternoon, the Detroit News reported one of the five victims recovering at Sparrow Hospital is a 20-year-old international student from China named John Hao. His roommate, Argent Quian, told the news outlet that Hao had been shot in the back, paralyzing him from the chest down and injuring his lungs. Although he is in stable condition, he has a breathing tube and his family is facing “significant financial burdens,” according to the Detroit News.
Hao’s parents traveled to Michigan from China to be with their son but Quian said they are already in debt. A GoFundMe fundraiser has been started to raise money for Hao’s medical expenses.
“John’s critical injuries are adding to the pressure on the family, leaving their parents not only to pay the debt in the future but also need to take care of John without having any income, since they are in the U.S. without speaking any English,” Qian wrote in the fundraiser.
— News 8’s Anna Skog contributed to this report.