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Grosse Pointe, Clawson community members come together to honor native MSU shooting victims

February 16, 2023
Family, friends and the Clawson community gather for a candlelight vigil to honor Alexandria Verner, a victim of MSU's mass shooting, at Clawson High School's Football Field on Feb. 15, 2023, two days after the mass shooting at MSU.
Family, friends and the Clawson community gather for a candlelight vigil to honor Alexandria Verner, a victim of MSU's mass shooting, at Clawson High School's Football Field on Feb. 15, 2023, two days after the mass shooting at MSU. —
Photo by Sonya Barlow | The State News

Michigan State University continues to process and grieve the mass shooting that took place Monday evening, with vigils being held across campus. However, East Lansing is not the only place people are meeting to mourn.

In Grosse Point, community members gathered Tuesday night to honor the life of Brian Fraser. In Clawson, community members did the same for Alexandria Verner on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

"It’s heartwarming to see that everyone is here supporting us,” Clawson High School 2020 graduate Camryn Harlan said. “It makes you feel like in this kind of community if something were to happen to one of us, the community would come together to support.”

Both vigils dedicated a moment of silence to the Spartans that were taken during the tragedy on Monday night.

At St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church in Grosse Point, all MSU students were asked to come forward and light a candle to pay tribute to Fraser.

The Spartan sophomore business major attended St. Paul on the Lake through eighth grade, prior to beginning high school at Grosse Pointe South.

Community members flooded the church, cramped up against the back wall and sides of rows to support the Fraser family and others in mourning. 

“I was quite overwhelmed but very happy that so many came to be here,” pastor Jim Bilot said. “It shows that in these times it’s our faith and we need that prayer to be able to get us through. Just being together shows support and solidarity and that’s very important.”

Bilot described Fraser as “just a really good person” and someone that was really a kind man.

At MSU, Fraser was an active member of his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, where he served as Chapter President. Many of Fraser's fraternity brothers were in attendance on Tuesday.

At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, Clawson High School’s football field was crowded with around 1,500 people to honor Verner.

The junior studying biology attended Clawson Public Schools from elementary through high school. Her Clawson jerseys, numbers 24 and 10, were hung up along the field's fence, surrounded with flowers and candles from family and friends.

Clawson Public Schools Superintendent Billy Shellenbarger described Verner as Clawson’s daughter. The All-America athlete was regarded as the most talented player on all of her teams, and exemplified the qualities of a tremendous leader to younger kids. 

“She was unique, and by unique I mean special,” Shellenbarger said. “She’s a rare one.”

After arriving to Wednesday night’s vigil early, Shellenbarger made a phone call to U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, Clawson's congresswoman, initiating a time to meet and implement imperative change.

“As soon as the dust settles and there’s time I want to come to your office and sit in the chair across from you and get real about what I can do as a superintendent, as a school district and as a community,” Shellenbarger said. "We’re done just sitting back on our hands and watching our students get killed.”

Harlan grew up alongside Verner, attending elementary, middle and high school together. Although he didn't know the beloved Clawson native on a personal level, Harlan recognized the remarkable impact she had on his community.

“She was always a role model, top of the class,” Harlan said. “You always expected her to be the one leading. She was the one that you picked first in gym class.”

The funeral mass for Fraser is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church.

Alexandria Verner's funeral service will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Guardian Angel Cemetery in Rochester and visitation will be on Friday from 4-9 p.m.

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