Police identified the suspect in the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University as Anthony Dwayne McRae, who shot and killed himself. But a viral internet hoax used the photo of another man and falsely claimed that the suspect was named “Lynn Dee Walker.”
Anthony Dwayne McRae, 43, shot at least eight students at Michigan State University on Feb. 13, according to campus police.
Three of those students died and five were in critical condition as of the morning of Feb. 14.
Police found McRae after he shot and killed himself off campus, Interim Deputy Chief Chris Rozman, of the Michigan State University Police and Public Safety, announced at a press conference shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 14. That was about four hours after the initial shots-fired alert went out.
Police identified McRae by name at a press conference later that morning at 8 a.m.
In the meantime, however, an internet hoax spread widely, misidentifying the suspect as “Lynn Dee Walker” with photos of a person not related to the shooting.
One of the most viral versions of the claim came from a Twitter account that started in April and has a history of sharing misinformation about vaccines and COVID-19, as well as content critical of the Biden administration. That tweet was viewed more than a million times, according to Twitter’s view count, before it was deleted and the account posted an apology. The original tweet was also copied and shared as a screenshot meme on Facebook.
The photos included in the tweet appear to show the person who runs a Twitter account that posts frequently about religious topics. Although the account is run anonymously, the person behind it tweeted a picture of himself in 2020 and wrote, “The main reason I anonymize myself is to protect my very innocent & boring family from the intrigues of internet sociopaths.”
The photo in his tweet is one of the pictures used in the viral post.
We sent a message to the account seeking comment, but didn’t get a response.
But, as we said, police have identified the shooting suspect as Anthony Dwayne McRae, who is now dead.
“We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point,” Rozman, the interim deputy police chief, said at the 8 a.m. press conference on Feb. 14. “We can confirm that the 43-year-old suspect had no affiliation with the university. He was not a student, faculty, staff — current or previous.”
The investigation is ongoing.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
MSU Police and Public Safety (@msupolice). “UPDATE: The person who committed these homicides is 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Twitter. 14 Feb 2023.
MSU Police and Public Safety (@msupolice). “UPDATE: We are able to confirm that the 3 deceased, and 5 victims in critical condition are all MSU students.” Twitter. 14 Feb 2023.
Michigan State University Police. Alert issued at 02/13/2023 08:31:52 PM EST. 13 Feb 2023.
MSU Police and Public Safety. “8AM NEWS CONFERENCE: Shooting at Michigan State University.” Facebook. 14 Feb 2023.
R.Cam (@Logo_Daedalus). “I didnt have a choice after the German Idealism video so lol— I don’t really care is what I realized. Here’s a pic of me rn. I got doxxed in 2018 & it was entirely without consequence.” Twitter. 3 Oct 2020.