For the city of Clawson, the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University hits especially close to home, because it took one of its own. The mass shooting tragedy began around 8:18 p.m., after which a manhunt on campus and the surrounding East Lansing community ensued for roughly four hours before law enforcement located the gunman a few miles off campus in Lansing.

Alexandria Verner

Alexandria Verner was one of three students slain by a gunman at Michigan State University Monday, Feb. 13.

Three students — Alexandria Verner of Clawson, Brian Fraser of Grosse Pointe and Arielle Anderson of Harper Woods — were slain by the gunman, and five others were hospitalized. The 43-year-old gunman Anthony Dwayne McRae also died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound the night of the shooting. Law enforcement officials have confirmed McRae had no affiliation with the university.  

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As the Clawson community continues to mourn the death of Verner, a 2020 Clawson High School graduate and one of the three students killed in the tragic mass shooting, the tight-knit community has also found ways to celebrate the extraordinary life that Verner lead.

Public gatherings in honor of Verner began with two candlelight vigils on the football field at Clawson City Park Feb. 14-15, followed by a series of fundraiser and memorial events held by local businesses, with more coming up during the Feb. 24-26 weekend. The Old Detroit Burger Bar, where Verner worked as a waitress, was one of the first businesses to lead a fundraiser in her honor.

The burger tavern held an all-day fundraiser event, with proceeds from the restaurant going to support the Verner family, and had a table selling T-shirts with the motto “MSU Strong in Clawson” printed on them, lawn signs, and stickers to raise donations as well. But just as importantly, the event gave her friends, loved ones, and the community a space to come together to grieve, process, remember, and heal.

Alexandria Verner fundraiser at Old Detroit Burger Bar

Lisa Sarvello, left, and Derek Custer, right, sell T-shirts and other “MSU Strong in Clawson” paraphernalia at the Old Detroit Burger Bar in Clawson, MI to raise funds for Alexandria Verner’s family. | Photo by One Detroit

One Detroit’s Chris Jordan takes viewers to the candlelit vigil on Feb. 15 and to Old Detroit Burger Bar on Feb. 17 for a look at how the Clawson community has started to heal after losing one of their own. Jordan talks with Lisa Sarvello, who organized the Old Detroit Burger Bar fundraiser and worked with Verner there, Clawson coach Derek Custer who organized the production of the T-shirts and other fundraiser merchandise and also coached Verner in high school, and Verner’s friend and fellow student Nate Vesper.

“I think the hardest part for all of us is how hard this is impacting a bunch of people that we love, from our friends’ parents to our friends themselves and their siblings, and just kind of watching the whole community hurt at once,” Vesper said.

Additional fundraisers in support of Alexandria Verner and her family are taking place throughout the weekend. On Friday, Feb. 24, Kahve will donate 100% of its coffee sales to the Verner family. Saturday, Feb. 25, Eclipse Yoga will host “A day of yoga, love and community in honor of Alex Verner,” in which all proceeds will benefit a new Alex Verner Scholarship for future Clawson High School graduates. TwyFit Fitness Studio will host two special Sunday yoga classes with proceeds being donated to the Verner family.

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