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Some Michigan State University students endured the unthinkable: Two mass shootings in less than 2 years

<i>Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal/USA Today Network</i><br/>
Matthew Dae Smith / USA TODAY NE
Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal/USA Today Network

By Ray Sanchez, Amanda Jackson and Dakin Andone, CNN

Some Michigan State University students who survived Monday’s mass shooting — and their parents — had already been through a similar, horrific experience.

“(Fourteen) months ago I had to evacuate from Oxford High School when a fifteen year old opened fire and killed four of my classmates and injured seven more. Tonight, I am sitting under my desk at Michigan State University, once again texting everyone ‘I love you,'” Emma Riddle, a freshman studying history at the university tweeted overnight Monday. “When will this end?”

Her father, Matt Riddle, told CNN Tuesday his daughter survived the November 30, 2021, shooting at Oxford High School in a community about 80 miles northeast of the MSU campus in East Lansing.

There, another gunman opened fired Monday night, killing three students and wounding five others and sending terrified students running or escaping out of windows while others barricaded themselves inside classrooms. The shooter died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

Emma Riddle survived the first shooting in Oxford by hiding in the band hall where others had barricaded the door before eventually fleeing to a store in the area, her father said, recalling the phone call he got as she ran away.

Less than a year and a half later, his daughter called again, Matt Riddle said — this time hiding in her dorm at Michigan State.

“She was very fearful and scared,” Matt Riddle told CNN. “And shocked. She has been through this before. I just talked to her and tried to make her feel calm.”

In the hours after the shots rang out, as hundreds of police officers converged on the school to search for the gunman, the father and daughter exchanged texts and phone calls.

“Not knowing what was happening and the danger was hard,” Riddle said.

‘I have the tools to work through this’

Andrea Ferguson told CNN affiliate WDIV her daughter and other classmates were also survivors of both shootings.

“I never expected in my lifetime to have to experience two school shootings,” Ferguson said. “There’s several kids there that our daughter’s friends with that are going through the same thing.”

CNN has reached out to Ferguson for comment.

Her daughter, Ava, a freshman, told “CNN This Morning” on Wednesday that the MSU shooting compounded her trauma from the 2021 tragedy.

“After Oxford they said that this wasn’t going to happen again, that we were going to be safe going back to school, and that’s just not the case,” Ava Ferguson said. “The other night, I was in shock. I didn’t think it was real, honestly.”

Ferguson said the latest shooting was “traumatizing all over again” and she’s “still a little like shaken up by it.”

“There should have been laws made here years ago — when Sandy Hook happened — and it never did,” she said. “And I feel like now’s the time people need to start realizing there is people dying every day because of gun violence and something needs to be done about it.”

Ava Ferguson said she is a cancer survivor and had only been on the MSU campus for a few weeks.

Her mother told WDIV that Ava was getting on a bus on another part of campus on Monday when she started receiving texts about the shooting.

“It was like reliving Oxford all over again,” said Ferguson, who had been on the phone with her daughter when the young woman received texts about the latest mass shooting.

The mother described her daughter as “unbelievably terrified” and said it was “really, really surreal” to relive such a horrific experience.

US Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat, said it was haunting to see a young person wearing an “Oxford Strong” sweatshirt in footage from MSU after Monday’s shooting.

“As a representative of Oxford, Michigan, I cannot believe that I’m here again doing this 15 months later,” Slotkin said during a news conference Tuesday. “And I am filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools.”

She added, “We have children in Michigan who are living through their second school shooting in under a year and a half. If this is not a wake-up call to do something, I don’t know what is.”

“I feel for our children and young people,” East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon told CNN on Tuesday.

“We now have a complete generation that has grown up with this, many times over, from elementary all the way up to now, they live with this the entire time,” Bacon added.

Monday’s assault occurred hours before the five-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It marked the 67th mass shooting — with four or more shot, not including a gunman — in 2023, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard confirmed deputies from his office responded to both the Oxford High and MSU shootings.

“So very many thoughts are running through my head right now after being on Michigan State’s campus last night during the tragedy,” he tweeted Tuesday.

“To our Oxford community, I know that this is terribly traumatic. Know that we are here for you.”

As for Emma Riddle, her father drove from his home in Oxford to the Michigan State campus to pick up his daughter and her roommate. Emma is home for now until classes resume, he said, and she is working through the trauma.

“She is OK — as OK as she can be,” he said. “It was heartbreaking, as a parent, because she said ‘I have tools to work through this. I have been through this before so I know how to process this.'”

Riddle advised other parents in the same situation as his family to just let their children know they aren’t alone.

“Just being there for them, no matter what they need,” he said. “As much as you are able don’t let them be alone.”

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