Former MSU roommate of alleged I-96 shooter speaks out


Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to accurately reflect Raulie Casteel’s time at MSU. The story’s headline also has been updated to accurately reflect Raulie Casteel’s alleged involvement in the incident.

When MSU alumnus Chris Burns saw his former roommate Raulie Casteel in news articles accused of being a mass shooter, he was shocked.

Burns couldn’t imagine the man he roomed with in 1997 — who he chatted with about daily life and geotechnical topics over a couple of beers and who was “wise beyond his years,” constantly reading books about finance — to be the same man linked to headlines about a 24-incident shooting spree across four Michigan counties, provoking police to offer a $102,000 award for information leading to the shooter’s arrest.

“Everything going on right now is really out of character from the Raulie I knew back then,” Burns said. “He was an insightful, thoughtful guy; he was sharp.”

The last time he saw his former roommate was about six or eight years ago when the two met up for a drink to catch up.

A couple of years ago, Raulie Casteel called him. Burns never returned it.

Casteel, an MSU alumnus, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Livingston County’s 53rd District Court for allegedly attempting to gun down random drivers along the I-96 corridor.

His bond was set at $2 million for connections to 24 shootings along and near highways in Ingham, Oakland, Livingston and Shiawassee counties, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Casteel was a student at MSU from the fall of 1995 to fall of 1997, graduating with a degree from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, university spokesman Jason Cody confirmed Wednesday night.

So far, Casteel faces charges for assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, intentionally discharging a weapon from a motor vehicle and three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe told the Detroit Free Press Casteel likely will face more charges from other police departments later this week.

Burns said media reports of his friend being “anti-government,” and “crazy” are disturbing and surprising.

“Since I heard about this, I have been thinking to myself, ‘Was there anything that he ever said or did that would lead me to believe he would do something like this?’ and there’s not,” Burns said.

The two met through Casteel’s father, Dale Casteel, who Burns said worked for the Physical Plant on campus. The MSU directory lists Dale Casteel as a retired employee.

“(Casteel) was quite the family guy when I knew him — he lived and died for his family,” Burns said.

During college, Raulie Casteel liked to hunt, and he would spend a lot of time in the woods, Burns said.

Burns said because Raulie Casteel was between 25 and 28 years old when he went back to college, he seemed older and a little bit different than the average student.

“(Neither) of us had a lot of friends come over because we were both older students,” Burns said, describing why they spent a lot of time in their apartment together drinking a beer or two while talking. “Because he was older, I think he appreciated (his academics) more.”

Upon seeing his former roommate’s name in the news, Burns said he reached out to Raulie Casteel’s wife. She hasn’t yet responded.

“I don’t agree with what he did, but I’m supporting him and I feel badly for his family,” Burns said. “The person I knew back in college — I could never see him doing something like this.”

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