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Ingham County 911 dispatcher recounts night of MSU shooting as MSUPD release timeline

Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 13, 2023

(WXYZ) — A chaotic night on campus. Michigan State University Police are now releasing information about their official timeline of events the night of the shooting, and the number of 911 calls that flooded into local dispatch.

Barb Davidson is Director of Ingham County 911 and came into work that night, along with countless other employees. In 5 hours they fielded more than 2,100 calls, the amount normally received in 2.5 days.

"It was anything that you could think of. People that thought they had information about the shooter or something they were seeing or hearing that they wanted to report," Davidson said of the calls. "Another phone was ringing literally waiting for us to get to it."

The first calls from Berkey Hall came in at 8:18 pm. Surveillance video shows the shooter entered the Union nearly 7 minutes later, just before 8:25. Another angle shows multiple unidentified students were in the vicinity during the shooting. At 8:26 pm, the shooter is seen leaving the building, beating responding officers by just 73 seconds. Police believe the shooter then left campus, but 911 calls kept pouring in.

“We had to assume it was all relevant because we didn't know,” said Davidson.

MSU police released a map showing every 911 call across campus. Davidson wanted to stay on the line with frantic callers but couldn't. she herself has a daughter who’s a freshman in college.

“There was a young lady who called who sounded very similar to my daughter," Davidson recalled. "(I) felt just terrible for them, just terrible. Some folks we talked to were so scared.”

Finally, at 11:35 pm, a key 911 call came in that the shooter was spotted in Lansing. As officers responded, he took his own life. Police released photos of the note found in his pocket where he indicated he was the leader of a group of 20 others, but police say intense investigation proved he acted alone.

“Somebody actually had to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that’s what happened because we were still processing so many calls,” Davidson said of that moment.

Davidson said the situation took days to process, and her team has held peer support groups as they continue to deal with the trauma. They're grieving with the greater MSU and Lansing community, a place they too call home.

MSU students have been on spring break this week but return on Monday to new safety changes. Buildings will close to the public at 6:00 pm.