CMU: Suspect arrested in campus killing of parents
Mount Pleasant — Police have arrested 19-year-old James Eric Davis Jr. for the suspected double murder of his parents in a campus shooting Friday that shocked Central Michigan University.
A release from CMU issued at 12:50 a.m. Saturday said Davis was seen and reported by a person on a train passing through the north end of campus shortly after midnight. The witness reported the sighting to police. They responded and arrested Davis without incident.
No further details were available. Mt. Pleasant's Department of Public Safety also tweeted an announcement of the arrest at 1:05 a.m. Davis would likely have been lodged in the Isabella County Jail pending arraignment.
The shooting put the campus on lockdown Friday, rocked the community, and left parents waiting as students were gradually escorted by uniformed officers from campus buildings on the last day of classes before spring break.
More than 100 law enforcement officers from around the state searched Friday night for Davis, whose parents were left dead in his dormitory.
James Eric Davis Sr. and Diva Jeneen Davis of Plainfield, Illinois, were identified as the victims by campus police.
Davis was last seen fleeing the Campbell Hall residence building, where the shooting took place on the fourth floor around 8:30 a.m. Friday. Authorities had focused their search on an area north of campus, said CMU Police Lt. Larry Klaus while the campus remained locked down.
Gov. Rick Snyder and university president George Ross met with parents who were gathered at a nearby Comfort Inn, waiting for the lockdown to lift.
Authorities began a “slow, methodical” release of students from campus buildings Friday afternoon, Klaus said, encouraging any students, faculty or staff still on campus to remain inside until they were contacted.
Davis is described as 19 years old, 5-foot-10 and 135 pounds. He was seen on a security camera leaving the residence hall in a dark hoodie. But police said they found discarded clothing near railroad tracks north of the building.
CMU police had contact with Davis on Thursday night, Klaus said, explaining officers responded to complaints of a “difficult student” in the residence hall. Davis was later taken to a University of Michigan Health Systems facility for a drug-related issue, Klaus said, correcting his earlier assertion that suspect had been at McLaren Hospital.
“Whether there was a mental health component that was in conjunction with that, we don’t know,” said Klaus, telling reporters there are “pieces of the puzzle” police are still trying to put together as they investigate the suspected shooter and his motive.
He said authorities are looking at surveillance video feeds. While the university does not have metal detectors, the campus is considered a gun-free zone.
State police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were assisting local authorities.
Davis graduated from Central High School in 2016, said Tom Hernandez, a spokesman for Plainfield School District 202. He previously spent three years at the district’s Plainfield South High and played basketball at both schools, Hernandez added.
His Twitter account shows Davis mainly retweeted jokes and memes, and he sporadically tweeted about athletes. But he occasionally shared details about his life.
In December, he mentioned school: “Next semester gonna be eventful,” he tweeted.
His father, James Davis Sr., was a part-time police officer in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood.
His mother, Diva Davis, had recently worked as a flight attendant and was in remission from breast cancer, according to her Facebook page.
By Friday night the CMU campus was deserted. Students had left town for a week-long break. A police helicopter that had hovered over the school grounds most of the day was gone.
In downtown Mount Pleasant, shops and restaurants buzzed with typical Friday night activity but customers were distracted by the troubling news.
Residents said they were unnerved by what had happened at the nearby campus and the fact that the alleged gunman was still on the loose.
“It’s a horrible thing,” resident Patti O’Sullivan said at Taco Bell. “It’s happening too much at schools.”
While the CMU shooting appeared to be an isolated incident, authorities were on high alert following a series of mass shootings across the country, including a recent school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead.
Snyder said state officials were already “actively looking at what we could do on our campuses and our schools to protect people better” and said the CMU shooting reinforced that need.
All planned campus events and activities, including any Saturday classes, are canceled until further notice.
Mark Hicks and Francis X. Donnelly of The Detroit News contributed.
Associated Press contributed.