Inspiration: Heroic MSU professor and students protect each other during gun violence incident

Michigan State University Assistant Professor Marco Díaz-Muñoz was teaching a class on Cuban cultural identity when a masked gunman opened fire, killing two students and injuring several others. Credit: Kelly House

By Terry Gips, Alliance President

We want to celebrate a true hero: Michigan State U Asst Professor Marco Díaz-Muñoz. He risked his life to save those of his students, while his students sought to stem the bleeding of their classmates. You can read or watch his poignant, traumatic sharing in this story from CNN. It’s very different to hear in the news a statistic — three more kids died or 12 more died — than to see what I saw.” He was teaching a class in the first classroom the gunman targeted. “There was a horrendous scene. I’ve never seen so much blood,” he said. 

Although he is haunted by the experience, Marco Díaz-Muñoz does want to teach again. He also wants to connect with the students that were in his class, with whom he now shares even more of a bond. “Those kids to me are like my family now, and I want to see them,” he said. “I want to help them, inspire them, teach them, and help them finish the semester in as positive a note as it can be under the circumstances.”

“Something kicked in in me that if I can do anything to stop this madness, I need to. People need to know what happened,” says Díaz-Muñoz. He adds his voice to those who want more to be done about the mental health crisis in the US, and to address gun control. And by telling his story, he hopes he can paint a picture of what happened. Díaz-Muñoz continues, “I think if those senators or lawmakers saw what I saw, not just hear statistics, they would be shamed into action.”

He said he believes that politicians and others are rationalizing the causes and impacts of shootings to meet their own agenda when he feels the most beneficial changes in history have come from people allowing themselves to listen to their humanity

Díaz-Muñoz’s story continually brought me to tears as I experienced the terror, heroism and extraordinary courage, selflessness, compassion, pain and commitment of one professor and his students at MSU. He exemplifies all of the qualities of a true hero.

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