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Students recall harrowing moments during Michigan State University rampage: "It's my friend's blood"

Mass shooting at Michigan State University
3 killed, 5 wounded in shooting at Michigan State University 02:59

Students recounted graphic and harrowing moments of terror after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at Michigan State University, killing three students and critically wounding five others. The shooter, identified by authorities on Tuesday as 43-year-old Anthony McRae, was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. 

Terrified students appeared to run for their lives during the chaos and confusion across the campus as local, state and federal law enforcement swarmed the university, CBS News' Roxana Saberi reported.

"Everyone's freaked out, everyone's terrified," one student said. "I see these people running in my direction and I sprint. I'm jumping down flights of stairs."

Ted Zimbo said he was walking to his dorm when he encountered a woman with a "ton of blood on her."

"She told me, 'Someone came in our classroom and started shooting,'" Zimbo told The Associated Press. "Her hands were completely covered in blood. It was on her pants and her shoes. She said, 'It's my friend's blood.'"

Zimbo said the woman left to find a friend's car while he returned to his SUV and threw a blanket over himself to hide for three hours.

East Lancing,  Michigan - February 14: Police are seen at the s
Police are seen at the scene on Lake Lansing Road where a body is seen on the side of the road hours after a deadly shooting at Michigan State University. Photo by Rey Del Rio for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Dispatch audio revealed the chaotic scene as the gunman appeared to move from room to room in a campus building, Saberi reported.

"All I have so far is that there's a shooter in the hallway," the dispatcher says, adding there are reports of "jumping out of a window currently. Advising there is one subject who is not breathing, who's shot in the head…"

Claire Papoulias, a sophomore, described on NBC's "Today" how she and other students scrambled to escape a history class through a window after the gunman entered from a back door and began firing.

"There was a boy in my class, and he was waiting outside the window, and he was catching people and helping people down," she said. "As soon as I fell out of the window I kind of hit the ground a little. I just grabbed my backpack and my phone, and I remember I just ran for my life."

Dominik Molotky said he was learning about Cuban history around 8:15 p.m. when he and the other students heard a gunshot outside the classroom. He told ABC's "Good Morning America" that a few seconds later, the gunman entered and fired three to four more rounds while the students took cover.

"I was ducking and covering, and the same with the rest of the students. He let off four more rounds and when it went silent for about 30 seconds to a minute, two of my classmates started breaking open a window, and that took about 30 seconds to happen. There was glass everywhere," Molotky said.

"After that, we broke out the window and I climbed out of there, and then I booked it back to my apartment," he said. He was unsure whether gunfire hit any of the students.

MIchigan State Shooting
Michigan State University student Ryan Kunkel describes how he and others remained quiet and sheltered during a shooting on campus, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich.  Carlos Osorio / AP

Meanwhile, Ryan Kunkel, 22, was attending a class in the Engineering Building when he became aware of the shooting from a university email. Kunkel and about 13 other students turned off the lights and acted like there "was a shooter right outside the door," he said.

"Nothing came out of anyone's mouth" for over four hours, he said.

Investigators still were sorting out why McRae fired inside an academic building and the student union shortly before 8:30 p.m. Monday. The shootings led to a harrowing campus lockdown and a search for the gunman that ended roughly three hours later.

"We have absolutely no idea what the motive was," said Chris Rozman, deputy chief of campus police, adding that McRae, of Lansing, was not a student or Michigan State employee.

"This is still fluid," Rozman said. "There are still crime scenes that are being processed, and we still are in the process of putting together the pieces to try to understand what happened."

The dead and injured in the gunfire at Berkey Hall and the MSU Union, a popular place to eat and study, all were students, Rozman said. Five remained in critical condition at Sparrow Hospital, said Dr. Denny Martin, who fought back tears during a news conference.

"Our Spartan community is reeling today," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Michigan State graduate, said at the briefing.

Interim university President Teresa Woodruff said it would be a time "to think and grieve and come together."

"This Spartan community - this family - will come back together," Woodruff said.

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