A gunman who killed three and wounded five others at Michigan State University on Monday would have been barred from owning a firearm at the time of the shooting had he not had felony gun charges dismissed by a progressive prosecutor.
Anthony McRae was charged in June 2019 with illegally carrying a concealed handgun without a permit, but later had those charges dismissed by the office of Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon (D.). Her office instead let McRae plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor gun charge, and he served a little more than a year on probation, which ended May 2021. He initially faced up to five years in prison for the felony charge, the Detroit News reported.
Siemon retired from the prosecutor’s office at the start of this year after facing criticism from judges and law enforcement officials for her soft-on-crime policies. The same year that McRae was released, Ingham County sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth pushed East Lansing’s city council "to reconsider her internal felony firearm charging policy," which he said "does not hold people properly criminally accountable, and increases the likelihood of additional gun violence."
Siemon made it her office’s official policy in August 2021 to drop mandatory prison sentences for felony firearms charges. She said the sentencing enhancement led to "dramatic racial inequity" and was "not in any way linked to the goal that we share of keeping the public safe."
Siemon is part of George Soros’s vast public safety network. She has participated in international criminal justice reform junkets with other "reform-minded" prosecutors like Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner (D.), Chicago’s Kim Foxx (D.), and Los Angeles’s George Gascón. She also backed radical San Francisco prosecutor Chesa Boudin (D.) ahead of a recall campaign that eventually ousted him from office last year.
The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that McRae’s 2019 offense would not have received "the legal maximum" prison sentence, even if they had pursued it.
"Even if he were convicted by a jury of the original charge, Anthony McRae would not have been recommended for a jail or prison sentence," the office said. "The sentencing guideline score would have been the same if he had been convicted of either the original charge (Carrying a Concealed Weapon) or the offense for which he was convicted (carrying a firearm in a vehicle)."
McRae was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, "progressive prosecutors such as Ms. Siemon continue to value reducing the incarcerated population over their duty to protect the public by enforcing the law."
In 2021, the Vera Institute for Justice, a think tank funded by Soros’s Open Society Foundations, also praised Siemon and other reform prosecutors who pledged to reduce racial disparities in prosecution. Siemon boasted about the changes she made in her office when she announced her retirement in November.
"I believe we have made substantial progress to reform the justice system and provide for a proportionate response to criminal charges," she said. "We have changed the prosecutors’ office’s charging and sentencing practices, to provide a greater range of options to hold people accountable for the harm they cause while reducing incarceration, and continuing to serve victims and to expand their services and support."
But a Michigan circuit court judge called her out weeks earlier for making Lansing less safe with her policies. "She is not a legislator, she is not a judge, and she is making our community unsafe," Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said.
Siemon’s successor, John Dewane, has already set about toughening up charges for repeat offenders, according to an interview he did with WKAR.
"My number one goal, and I put out some policies with regard to this issue, is the increase in gun violence in our community, specifically the Lansing area," he said.
Dewane told the Free Beacon after publication that "McRae would not have been able to legally purchase, own, or possess a firearm" if he had "been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon." Reports show neighbors had called the police on McRae last summer after hearing him fire his gun in the backyard of his father's home in Lansing.
Update 2/15 11:45 a.m.: This piece has been updated with additional information.