At least three people were declared dead and five others critically wounded in a mass shooting at Michigan State University (MSU) as the epidemic of gun violence assumes alarming proportions in the United States.
According to reports, citing police officials, the shooting unfolded in two scenes, an academic building and the student union.
The suspect, who police identified as a 43-year-old man, opened fire inside a campus building at night and then moved on to the next building where more shots were fired. He himself died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
Chris Rozman, interim deputy chief of the Michigan State University Police, confirmed three fatalities and five injuries, who were transferred to a hospital.
UPDATE: There are 3 confirmed fatalities. This is in addition to the 5 victims who have been transported to the hospital. pic.twitter.com/on3iPHhsfK— MSU Police and Public Safety (@msupolice) February 14, 2023
"Some of the wounded had suffered life-threatening injuries," he was quoted as saying. “Police and emergency responders acted quickly. We tended to the victims at both of those scenes."
All classes, both virtual and in-person, were canceled at the university for at least a 48-hour period, the university said in a statement on Tuesday morning.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was briefed on the shooting and said police were working to secure the area and ensure the safety of the campus.
Weeks before the shooting, Whitmer had pledged to tighten the state’s gun laws. In her State of the State speech in late January, she called for enacting “red flag laws,” which allow judges to order guns be snatched from those who pose threat to others.
Monday's shooting came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Parkland school shooting that left 14 students and three staff members dead.
The Feb. 14, 2018 carnage at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, led to massive protests against gun violence in the US.
"Five years ago to the day, 17 people were killed in Parkland in a horrific shooting that never should have happened," March For Our Lives, a youth-driven organization, said in a tweet.
Mass shootings have emerged as a major public issue in the US in recent years amid divided opinion among the political elites on gun control laws.
Last year saw almost double the number of mass shootings compared to 4 years ago. In 2022, death rates from firearms reached their highest level in three decades, reports said.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks shootings in the US, a total of 647 mass shootings were recorded in 2022, killing 44,287 people.
The International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice in a report noted that mass shootings in the US account for 73 percent of all incidents and 62 percent of all fatalities in developed countries, more likely involving “foreign-born perpetrators, ideological motives, fame-seeking motives, schools, open spaces, and handguns”.
According to a JAMA Network Open Study, since 1990, more than one million people have been killed due to firearms in the US.