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MSU Shooting Survivor Troy Forbush Speaks at Gun Reform Rally in Lansing

Credit: iStock

by Jon King, Michigan Advance
March 24, 2023

“This is more than being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This could happen anywhere, at any time in this country. This has to end.”

With those words, Troy Forbush began to tell his story on Thursday at the March for Our Lives rally at Michigan’s Capitol. Forbush was among the five students shot and critically injured when a gunman opened fire on the Michigan State University campus on Feb. 13. Three other students were killed. Troy Forbush | Twitter

Forbush, who was shot twice in the chest while sitting in a classroom, was the first of the five injured students to be discharged from the hospital. Three others have since been released, while a fifth remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Speaking to the approximately 100 people gathered to advocate for gun reform legislation that has been moving through the Democratic-led Legislature in recent weeks, Forbush said what he initially thought to be someone accidentally dropping a heavy textbook, quickly turned out to be the sound of a handgun being fired into the classroom. 

“Through the doorway entrance in the back of our classroom, I fell to the ground from my seat and tried to act as if I were already dead,” he said. “As he panned the room with his handgun, I pled for my life and screamed, ‘Please don’t shoot me!’ We were met face to face with pure evil.”

Forbush recalled how a fellow student had taken off their shirt to apply pressure to his wounds and grabbed his hands to comfort him. He thanked the paramedics who he said he was forever grateful for after they saved his life, as well as his family members who had been with him since the shooting. 

But he said that what happened was something he would not easily forget.

“I still find it most difficult when I’m alone in a room by myself for too long,” said Forbush. “My mind can’t help but wander back to that horrific night. There is a long, long journey of healing ahead of me before I will shake that indescribable trauma and anxiety.”

Forbush, a music education and vocal performance double major, said that being a victim of gun violence and a mass shooting survivor was sadly the most relevant experience he would ever need as a future educator and now, as an advocate for student safety.

“I, Troy Forbush, am now connected to thousands of Americans who have experienced or been inadvertently affected by mass shootings in gun violence,” he told the crowd. “That number is only going to continue to grow exponentially if we don’t advocate for change as individuals, community members, and people of the United States.”

This is more than being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This could happen anywhere, at any time in this country. This has to end.

– Troy Forbush, who survived the Feb. 13 Michigan State University mass shooting

He then ended with a request for those in a position to effect change on this issue.

“Senators, House representatives, and all government officials alike, I just ask one thing of you, please,” he said. “When voting for current and future gun safety bill packages, think about the people you love, the children in your lives, whose future awaits them, and the lengths you would go to to protect them and make sure they reach that future.”

While the crowd was mostly enthusiastic in their support of Forbush and his call for action on gun reform, more than a dozen others, some openly carrying handguns, protested in favor of gun rights.

Despite that, there has been legislative movement on the issue. On Wednesday, the Michigan House passed safe storage bills, part of a larger package of gun safety legislation that also has been taken up by the Senate.

The House and previously passed legislation requiring background checks for all unlicensed gun sales and mandating all firearm sales be subject to a background check.

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.