Police: Gun in CMU shooting belonged to suspect's father
The gun used in a shooting at a Central Michigan University dormitory that left a student's parents dead was registered to the suspect's father, the school's police chief said on Saturday.
James Davis Jr., the 19-year-old CMU student accused of killing his mother and father in his dorm room on Friday, used the gun registered to his father James Eric Davis Sr., a part-time police officer with the Bellwood Police Department in suburban Chicago, said CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley, during a morning press conference.
The younger Davis was arrested early Saturday, just after midnight, Yeagley said, when Central Michigan police received a tip from the employee of a train company in the area. Davis Jr. had been spotted standing near the tracks, which the employee found suspicious. The employee called police, who responded within two minutes. Davis was arrested without incident.
Yeagley said the father's position as a law enforcement officer did not give him an automatic right to bring a gun onto Central's campus. Only active law enforcement or others given special permission are allowed to bring weapons onto the campus, he said. The elder Davis was off-duty and given no such permission.
The weapon allegedly used in the shooting is registered in Davis Sr.'s name, Yeagley said, but he could not say whether it was his service weapon. The press conference was broadcast via Facebook by Central Michigan Life, the student newspaper at CMU, and was held at the Bovee University Terrace Rooms.
Davis was spotted on video walking the gun in from the parking lot to Campbell Hall, Yeagley said, where the shooting would take place in the student's fourth-floor dorm room. Yeagley could not say whether anyone besides the Davis family was in the room at the time.
Suspect acted not 'reasonable or logical'
The shooting came a day after Davis got on the school's radar for mental health issues.
On Thursday around 9:45 a.m., Davis went into the office of a community police officer assigned to his dorm. He was "very frightened," and said someone wanted to hurt him, but he was also "very vague," Yeagley said during the press conference.
He said he rode down the elevator with someone who had a gun and threatened him. The officer got the man's name, but when police pulled the video from the elevator, they saw the two men laughing, and Davis did not appear to be in danger. Between the video and an interview with the man at the CMU police station, he was determined to not pose a danger to Davis.
A few hours later, at 1:15 p.m., police saw Davis in the hallway of his dorm "with a number of suitcases and bags," Yeagley said. In the earlier interaction, Davis had told police he was going home Friday. But on Thursday, he was "acting in a fashion that isn't reasonable or logical," the chief said.
The community police officer asked for Davis' cell phone and called his parents, and spoke with his mother, Diva Jeneen Davis , who expressed concern and said she and her husband would be coming to the school immediately.
The officer asked if drugs were Davis' problem, and his mother said she shared that concern. The officer took him to an area hospital, where is his parents picked him up Friday morning.
Whether Davis had used drugs was not immediately known, Yeagley said.
The three then went back to Campbell Hall to load up their vehicle and head back to Illinois as CMU let out for spring break. It was in the back-and-forth between vehicle and building that Davis Jr. was spotted by a witness carrying a gun into the dorm, which Yeagley said was later confirmed with photos and video.
Then, police say, Davis went back to his fourth floor room and shot and killed his mother and father, before leaving on foot, approaching the same railroad tracks where he would be caught hours later.
Officials were asked why Davis wasn't flagged after being spotted with the gun, since dorms are typically monitored by front desk staff.
"This was not a normal class day," Yeagley said. "We need to look at this and examine everything. It's not unusual or surprising that during spring move out, side doors might be open and people are moving in and out. That's not to say we don't need to change anything."
'We are a safe campus'
Central Michigan President George Ross thanked Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State Police Col. Kriste Etue, who both appeared on campus after the double homicide, Etue bringing "scores" of state troopers with her.
He said the school would "redouble" its counseling efforts in the aftermath of an event that "traumatized" the school community. Other universities would lend CMU some of their grief counselors, he said, and the school will also soon expand its own counseling staff.
"This doesn't end with the arrest," Ross said. "Many were sheltered in place. They will deal with this the rest of their lives."
Davis is in police custody at McLaren Hospital as they treat the symptoms of hypothermia. Yeagley couldn't immediately speak to the timeline of what happens next or when he'll be arraigned.
"I don't know the answers to the whens," he said.
Ross commended the collaborative effort that brought more than 100 law enforcement officials to campus and the surrounding area and resulted in a peaceful arrest.
"We read about shooters on campus; we talk about it, we practice what we'd do," Ross said. "But we never envisioned it could happen at Central Michigan. We are a safe campus, and yesterday we demonstrated our ability to deal with the inconceivable."