Posts misidentify Michigan State gunman amid shooting
CLAIM: A photo shows 21-year-old Lynn Dee Walker, the suspect in the Michigan State University shooting.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The person in the image is not the gunman and has no connection to the shooting. Authorities have confirmed that the gunman who killed three students and wounded five before fatally shooting himself was 43-year-old Anthony McRae.
THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing an image of a man unrelated to the fatal shooting at the university on Monday night, falsely identifying him as the suspected gunman.
“#BREAKING: Michigan State University SHOOTING SUSPECT is 21 year old ‘Lynn Dee Walker’ according to dispatch audio. He is still on the loose and considered armed and dangerous,” wrote one Twitter user shortly after news of the shooting broke. The post included two images of a man with brown hair, a beard and glasses.
The post was first shared on Twitter, but had been removed by Tuesday. A screenshot of the tweet was shared on Facebook, and remained up on Tuesday morning.
However, the person identified in the post is not the gunman, nor is his name Lynn Dee Walker, a moniker derived from an internet meme.
The photo actually shows a writer based in Massachusetts who identified himself as Cameron Fuller in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Monday. He said his image was being shared with the false claims.
Fuller posted one of the photos of himself on his Twitter account on Oct. 3, 2020. Fuller said he’s been the target of false claims and attempts to reveal his personal information before because of his online presence and political ideology.
Fuller emphasized that people have targeted him “many times” in “different ways,” but not to this extent. “This is particularly bad,” he said.
The actual gunman was identified on Tuesday as McRae, a Lansing man who had a previous gun violation. He fatally shot himself after an hourslong manhunt that sent the campus into a harrowing lockdown, finally ending in a confrontation with police miles from the school, officials said.
Investigators were still trying to determine why McRae fired inside an academic building and the student union shortly before 8:30 p.m. Monday, telling the AP that authorities had “absolutely no idea what the motive was.”
Chris Rozman, deputy chief of campus police, said McRae was not a student or Michigan State employee.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.