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Student shot at fireworks show, died next morning

July 8, 2012

MSU doctoral student Michelle Packard died Thursday morning after she was hit by a stray bullet while waiting for the fireworks show in Lansing’s Adado Riverfront Park on Wednesday evening.

According to Lansing police, the 34-year-old woman was found around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday by a man who reported she was having seizures by the boat docking area of the park.

After Packard was located and found unconscious, she was transported to a local hospital for treatment, where hospital officials reported finding a bullet lodged in her head at approximately 11:14 p.m.

Packard was pronounced dead at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday.

Police said preliminary searches do not indicate the gun was discarded within a close proximity of where Packard was found.

Packard’s mother, Pamela Leidlein, her sister, Elyse Packard, and fiance, John-Wesley Thomas, addressed the media on Friday afternoon.

“We all mourn the passing of such a great, kind, accomplished, compassionate, fun, funny, dorky, beautiful, and in every way, amazing woman that was Michelle,” Thomas said, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SMART Program, Packard was finishing a biosystems engineering doctorate degree at MSU, Thomas read in a statement.

She and Thomas had begun planning a June 2013 wedding.

Mayor Virg Bernero issued a statement Thursday regarding the “senseless act of violence,” expressing there are no words to convey the anger felt over the tragedy.

“It is a shock to us all that something like this could happen after we took such extensive precautions to keep everyone safe,” Bernero said. “We deployed nearly 100 police officers throughout the park and screened every single person who entered, yet an innocent bystander was still gravely injured by the reckless discharge of a firearm.”

Bernero said despite the short time the incident has been investigated, the shot most likely was not fired within the park.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting Lansing police with the case.
Packard’s friends and family are asking that anyone with tips regarding the incident come forward. Anyone with information can contact Detective Mark Lewandowsky at (517) 483-6859 or Crime Stoppers 483-STOP.

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