Michigan State professor recounts moment gunman opened fire in classroom; what he wants to see happen now

Posted at 9:12 AM, Feb 17, 2023

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Just a few days after witnessing the beginning of a mass shooting, Michigan State University professor Marco Diaz-Munoz is recounting his experience in hopes of inspiring a change.

Diaz-Munoz has been teaching humanities at MSU since 2008. He says the night of the shooting, he was teaching a course on Cuban culture and identity in Room 114 in Berkey Hall, one of his favorite courses to teach.

Diaz-Munoz says the rectangular classroom he teaches in has two doors on the same side, one in the front and another in the back. He says around 8:15 p.m. on Monday, a gunman let off three shots and then opened the back door and began shooting at students.

"He just showed up and started shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting," Diaz-Munoz recalled.

The professor says several students dropped to the ground while the gunman targeted students who were mostly at the back of the classroom. The shots would claim the lives of students Arielle Anderson and Alexandria Verner while injuring several others.

"It was like a movie happening, like a horror movie and then it becomes more real as I see the blood and there was so much blood all over the floor. I have never smelled the scent of blood and it was everywhere," Diaz-Munoz said.

Diaz-Munoz says as the gunman took off, the professor rushed to the front door grabbing the handle and positioning his foot against the door in an effort to keep the shooter from reentering the room. The professor says the shooting only lasted for a few minutes but seemed like an eternity.

"It’s horror and incredible pain because I don't know if all teachers feel the same. I think they do. Someone who has been teaching as long as I have, it’s because we enjoy mentoring people," he said."They are the age of my daughters so it’s like seeing my daughter going through that, so it was so painful to see someone doing that harm to them and me being unable to stop it."

Diaz-Munoz says he slept for two days following the shooting in an effort to forget the images he saw but is now telling his story in hopes of forcing change.

"This evil that happened there wasn’t just the evil of that man killing people; it’s also the evil of not doing anything when you have the power to change it in Congress. And, if anything, I want to shame Congress into doing something about it," he said.

Diaz-Munoz said there needs to be background checks, proper funding for mental health and assault rifles should be banned. He also says there needs to be more funding for social programs, which he believes will prevent people being driven to extremes like mass shootings.

"This is not about making level-headed decisions. The only reason you make level-headed decisions is if you want to protect the interests of gun lobby and the people who think you need more than a pistol for safety," said Diaz-Munoz in criticism of state and federal lawmakers. "This idea that we need to stop and think and not make rushed decisions. That is what senators say to gain time, to not affect the gun industry and lobby. They’re not thinking of the people that died. They’re thinking of keeping their positions in Congress and in government."

"The French Revolution didn’t happen because we were level-headed. The American revolution didn’t happen because we were level-headed. The end of slavery didn’t happen because we were level-headed," he later added.

As classes are expected to resume Monday, Diaz-Munoz says he doesn't believe he'll be ready to return to the classroom he's taught in for several semesters or building anytime soon.

"I don’t think I would feel comfortable coming back right now, not this semester and definitely not that room. I probably can be comfortable teaching in Berkey again, but I don’t want to be in that classroom," the professor said. "I don’t want to remember what I saw in that classroom because it’s not just my trauma, it’s the trauma of the students."

This article was written by WXYZ Staff.