Cody High School Grad Recounts Active Shooter On Michigan State Campus
Written by Mac Watson on February 14, 2023
It was a typical Monday night when freshman Isabelle Radakovich, an alum of Cody High School and known as “Izzy” to her friends, was sitting in the dining hall on the south campus of Michigan State University when the message pinged her phone.
“I got a text that shots had been fired on the north campus from the group chat that I’m on,” she said, casually naming buildings and street names on the MSU campus. “And then ten minutes later we got an email from the university requesting lockdown and the Run Hide Fight Procedure. That was obviously a little scary to get because I’ve gotten emails about shots being fired off campus…but [the active shooter] is the closest thing we’ve ever had.”
Izzy was a stellar student and athlete at Cody High School and graduated last year. She received the STARR Charitable Foundation Scholarship, and made her choice to attend MSU after a campus visit on a full four-year scholarship. As an International Relations and Public Affairs major, she knew leaving a small town like Cody for the large, sprawling campus in East Lansing, Michigan would be hard.
But no one could have predicted that on Monday night, a gunman would open fire, killing three people and sending five to the hospital in critical condition. Ultimately, the gunman would kill himself when confronted by police off campus.
Izzy didn’t know the gunman wasn’t a threat after a 45-minute killing spree. She was up in her friend’s dorm room on the sixth floor of her residence hall, deciding what furniture to use to barricade the hallway doors at the end of the building. “We [barricaded the doors] and stayed in the room listening to the police scanners.” While listening to the police scanner on their phones, they also looked on the television for a live update on their campus. “We tried to be safe as possible until [the college] gave us the order that the ‘shelter in place’ had been lifted.”
The ordeal started at 8:15PM and she didn’t leave her friend’s dorm until 12:30AM. Meanwhile, hundreds of police officers had poured in, scouring the East Lansing campus, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit, for the suspect. Police described him as a short, Black man with red shoes, a jean jacket and a ball cap.
The interim police chief, Chris Rozman, described the manhunt as a “nightmare that we’re living tonight.” To pass the time, Izzy said there wasn’t a lot of casual chit chat. “There was a lot of talk about what furniture do we move, a lot of people were talking about what if the person tries to come in [to the dorm], and listening to the police scanner.” Things started to get confusing while the killer was on the loose. Izzy remembered, “there was a lot of confusion, a lot of misinformation going around. I mean, it’s a stressful situation, so…a door slams and someone says there are gun shots. There was a lot of that going around.”
The police still don’t have a motive as to why the shooter chose the MSU campus, or if he had an agenda with certain people on campus that night.
As for Izzy, is she going through culture shock adjusting to a new place, new people and new experiences? “Well,” she starts, “umm, with social media and the internet being so prevalent now and so accessible for everyone, I don’t think the culture shock was as violent as it could’ve been just because I’ve grown up hearing about all these different school shootings. It’s not like there’s a secret that America has school shootings. It’s pretty harrowing to realize that [an active shooter] could happen to anyone. It’s not just as distant as people would probably like to believe. Parts of me wish that I still could still consider it was a distant thing…but it’s definitely important to have that perspective.”
Michigan State has over 50,000 students enrolled, including 19,000 who live on campus. All classes, sports and other activities were canceled for 48 hours after the shooting.