LANSING, Michigan — Troy Forbush, a survivor of the Michigan State University shooting, spoke about his terrifying experience Thursday during the March for Our Lives rally at the Michigan State Capitol.
Three students were killed and five were wounded when a gunman opened fire on the campus of Michigan State University on February 13. Troy Forbush was one of the students shot in Berkey Hall during class. He was shot twice in the chest, spent a week in intensive care and was the first victim to be discharged from the hospital.
Three other victims were released after Forbush, but the fifth remains in critical condition.
“It’s more than just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can happen anywhere and anytime in this country. This has to end,” Forbush said at the start of his speech.
Forbush was one of several speakers at the March For Our Lives rally held Thursday, March 23, on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol. The organization and its supporters rallied for change, citing a sharp increase in mass shootings in Michigan and across the U.S.
Speakers on Thursday shared firsthand accounts of gun violence — including Forbush, who went into detail about being shot in the chest the night of the shootings.
“What I initially thought was someone accidentally dropping a heavy textbook quickly turned out to be the piercing sound of a gun being fired at me and my peers through the doorway at the back of our classroom. I fell to the ground from my seat and tried to act like I was already dead. As he spun the room with his gun, I begged for my life and screamed ‘Please don’t shoot me!’ We came face to face with pure evil,” he said in his speech. “Seconds after being shot through the lung, two entry wounds and two exit wounds, I was lying in a state of shock that will never leave my mind and will forever haunt me, I felt my phone under me and maneuvered to grab it and I called my mom at exactly 8:18pm. At that moment all I could think about was how to keep my eyes open as long as possible and fight for my life so I could tell the person I care about most in life that I love her, that Imam was shot, and that there was a shooter.
Forbush said the heightened security measures the university has put in place as a result of the shooting are not enough.
“The classrooms in Berkey Hall had no locks. Just like at least 1,300 other classrooms on campus. Our doors were wide open to anyone who wanted to. The university has since announced it will add locks and update security measures overnight, but we cannot forget that it was too late for Alexandria, Ariel, Brian, myself, and the four others injured in this senseless act. It should be shocking to everyone that we live in a society that requires places of learning to be heavily secured and locked because we cannot come together for the safety of children to end gun violence.”
—> Michigan State buildings require key card entry, have new hours as security measures go into effect
As a music education and vocal performance double major, Forbush said the trauma he experienced will directly affect his future career.
“Being a victim of gun violence and a survivor of a mass shooting is unfortunately the most relevant experience I will ever need as a future educator and advocate for student safety,” Forbush said.
The calls for change come as Democratic lawmakers try to pass gun reform legislation in the Michigan Legislature after the Michigan state shootings.
In an emotional plea, Forbush called on elected officials, saying, “Senators, House representatives and all government officials, I ask just one thing from you, please, when you vote on current and future gun safety bills, think about the people who you love, the children in your life whose future awaits them, and the lengths you would go to protect them and make sure they reach that future.
March For Our Lives was founded by students after the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. The organization works to increase gun control legislation by calling on lawmakers at marches and events similar to Thursday’s rally.
“The truth is that every death caused by gun violence is preventable. But for 40 years, the Michigan Legislature has been in the pocket of the gun lobby and failed to act to protect children from gun violence,” the March For Our Lives website states. “Michigans have suffered because of this, most recently the tragedy at Michigan State University. Now we finally have a chance to change that. Join us to demand common sense gun safety laws NOW.”
Although most attendees supported the event, it was reported that there were a few counter-protesters in favor of gun rights. Some of the counter-protesters were reportedly open and carrying handguns.
Although counter-protesters tried to thwart Forbush’s statements and account of the tragedy, he continued to deliver his message as most of the crowd cheered him in support.
“Alexandria Werner, Ariel Diamond Anderson and Brian Fraser, we will not forget. I repeat, we will not forget!” Forbush said at the end of his speech. “Together we are Spartan strong.”
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