Central Michigan University police called Diva Jeneen Davis on Thursday with a message of concern about the behavior of her son, James Davis Jr., saying that perhaps it would be best if she and her husband came to pick him up.
The police said 19-year-old Davis Jr. was “not really making a lot of sense” when he reported that a man with a gun had threatened to kill him. He was taken to a hospital because authorities were worried about potential drug use. Diva Davis, 47, and James Eric Davis Sr., 48, drove about four hours from the Chicago area to pick up their son from the hospital, just in time for spring break.
On Friday morning, the parents were shot and killed in a residence hall. Davis Jr. shot them with his father’s gun, authorities told reporters on Saturday, leading to a 16-hour manhunt that ended with his capture along train tracks in the freezing Michigan air early Saturday.
Davis Jr. had been hospitalized the night before because of an “overdose or bad reaction to drugs,” police said. The university is in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, about 155 miles from Detroit.
Campus Police Chief Bill Yeagley did not provide specifics of how and when Davis Jr. acquired his father’s gun. A witness told police they saw him “coming from the parking lot into the residence hall with a gun in his hand,” Yeagley said. His parents were found on the fourth floor of the building.
“We can make a lot of assumptions, but I’m not going to make those assumptions. But I can tell you for sure that the gun came from outside, in the parking lot, with (Davis Jr.) through the building,” he said.
The recovered weapon was registered to James Eric Davis Sr., who was a police officer at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago. Bellwood police chief Jiminez Allen said Friday that Davis Sr. was a part-time officer on the force, calling it “a very difficult time” for the Chicago suburb’s department, the Chicago Tribune reported.
It was unclear if the gun used in the shooting was his service weapon, Yeagley said. It is a violation of campus policy to bring a gun on campus outside official police duty, he said.
Diva Davis was a real estate broker in Chicago, according to her Facebook profile. The page has been filled with comments from loved ones and even some strangers. “I don’t know you … but my heart ache for you and your family,” one woman wrote Saturday.
Davis Jr. has been charged with two counts of murder and a weapons charge, university spokeswoman Heather Smith said Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
Their son avoided authorities for the entire day and night before he was spotted by a train operator barreling down tracks near the school past midnight. Police arrived within minutes to arrest him, Yeagley said. Davis Jr. was experiencing hypothermia and was still behaving erratically, prompting a decision to take him to nearby McLaren Central Michigan hospital.
Yeagley did not address how Davis Jr. eluded more than 100 officers from multiple police agencies conducting the search. He was found in an area that is roughly 15 to 20 minutes by foot from Campbell Hall, the residence building where his parents were killed. He might have doubled back in a searched area or hid from police canvassing the area, police said.
“This is an individual very intent on avoiding the police,” Yeagley said, responding to a question about the search effort. “This is how these things unfold.”
The killings came about two weeks after a gunman stormed a high school in Parkland, Florida. The slaying of 17 people there prompted a national conversation about gun violence and school safety, including the possibility of arming teachers. The Florida massacre has also reignited the topic of concealed carry of firearms on college campuses.
The Friday morning shooting triggered a campus lockdown. Hundreds of additional people were on campus as students were released for spring break, complicating the search efforts, Yeagley said.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder called the shooting a “terrible incident.”
“We had two people that were killed in a residence facility,” Snyder said at a Friday news conference. “That’s traumatic. To the students, to the parents, to the staff, to the faculty.”
Though there were no other injuries reported, university president George Ross said the killings and campus lockdown will have profound impact on the students and faculty. “It doesn’t end with the arrest this morning,” Ross told reporters. Some of the thousands on campus “will be dealing with this for the rest of their lives.”
The university will boost its counseling services, he said, and Ross encouraged students to explore issues with their parents during spring break. A university statement Friday evening said all campus events were being canceled until further notice. Classes scheduled for Saturday were also canceled.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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