GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Anthony McRae, the man who fatally shot three students and injured five others at Michigan State University on Monday before killing himself, was arrested in 2019 on gun charges, bodycam footage from the Lansing Police Department shows.
The video, taken on June 7, 2019, was released by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday — the day before police revealed McRae was carrying two guns during the deadly MSU shooting, both of which were purchased legally but neither of which was properly registered. In the bodycam footage from June 2019, a Lansing police officer can be seen approaching McRae while reportedly patrolling the area in the wake of recent burglaries. McRae is sitting on the steps outside an abandoned building, smoking a cigarette.
The officer asks if McRae works at the building. McRae says, “no,” and explains that he had just left a nearby convenience store. “You got any weapons on you right now?” the officer asks. McRae quickly responds with “Huh?” and the officer repeats the question. McRae hesitates for a moment before admitting he is carrying a weapon.
“What do you have?” the officer asks. “A .380,” McRae replies. The officer detains McRae, asking him to put his hands behind his back. McRae does so without objection. The officer asks if McRae has a concealed pistol license. McRae says he does not. “I’m working on it,” McRae says. He then tells the officer the gun is in his coat pocket and says it’s registered to him.
In the video, the officer can be seen patting McRae down and arresting him, explaining it was because he was carrying a concealed weapon without a concealed pistol license. The officer reads McRae his Miranda rights, and McRae again admits he knew he needed a CPL. Asked why he was carrying the gun, McRae replies, “Protection.” He also tells the officer he bought the gun in March at a Lansing pawn shop for $214.
Throughout the interaction, both the officer and McRae appeared to remain 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. Parts of the audio of the bodycam video, when McRae was listing personal information such as his birthday and address, were redacted before its release.
The police report said the gun, a Ruger LCP .380, was loaded. McRae had a second loaded clip in his pocket. Police released a photo of the gun and 13 bullets. The serial number on the gun had been redacted.
Court records released by the prosecutor’s office show McRae’s attorney had 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 that he reached into 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 (CCW) but ultimately pleaded down in October 2019 to a lesser charge of possession of a loaded firearm on or upon a vehicle. He was placed on probation, which ended in May 2021, and agreed to surrender the gun. Lansing police told Nexstar’s WOOD on Wednesday that they still have the Ruger LCP .380.
Prosecutors who spoke with WOOD say the 2019 plea deal in McRae’s felony weapons arrest preserved McRae’s right to legally possess firearms, something the initial felony charge would have prohibited. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, however, added that such plea deals are appropriate under the circumstances.
Becker also explained McRae’s sentence — probation and forfeiture of the gun — would have been the same under the felony CCW charge. “As for perspective, even if he were not offered a plea deal and was convicted of the CCW that he was charged with, he would have gotten the exact same sentence,” he said. “The sentencing guidelines for CCW, passed by the legislature, call for a sentencing range of zero-to-3 months for a person with a limited criminal history under that charge. Zero-to-3 months means that he should not be sent to prison, at best three months in jail.”
The Michigan Department of Corrections also told WOOD that McRae did not have any problems while on probation and never failed a drug test. Before the 2019 arrest, McRae also had four previous misdemeanor charges for driving without a license between 2006 and 2008, all of them in Lansing or nearby Eaton County.
On Monday at around 8:20 p.m., McRae entered Berkey Hall at Michigan State University around 8:20 p.m. Monday and started shooting, police said. He then moved to the MSU Union building 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 as of Wednesday. McRae had no affiliation with the university. His motive 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 WOOD that McRae was also 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.”