MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — A 19-year-old student suspected of killing his parents at a Central Michigan University dormitory before running from campus was apprehended early Saturday following an intensive daylong search that included more than 100 police officers, some heavily armed in camouflage uniforms, authorities said.
James Eric Davis Jr. was arrested without incident after someone spotted him on a train passing through the north end of campus shortly after midnight, according to a release posted on Central Michigan’s emergency communication website.
CMU President George E. Ross thanked the campus, surrounding community and law enforcement personnel “who came together to keep each other safe and apprehend the suspect,” according to the university police website.
Friday’s shooting at Campbell Hall happened on a day when parents were arriving to pick up students for the beginning of a weeklong spring break.
The university identified the two dead as Davis’ mother Diva Davis and father James Davis Sr., a part-time police officer in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood. The shooting occurred around 8:30 a.m. at a residence hall at Central Michigan, which is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Lansing.
Following the shooting, police released a photo of Davis and urged the public to call 911 if they saw him but also warned that he shouldn’t be confronted. Hours after a campus lockdown, police started a “slow, methodical removal” of staff and students who were ordered to take shelter in campus buildings, Lt. Larry Klaus said, adding that he “should be considered armed and dangerous.”
Klaus said video at the dorm suggested Davis had fled on foot after the shooting. He was wearing a hoodie but had been shedding certain clothes while on the run.
“This has been a tragic day. … The hurting will go on for a while,” Ross said.
The search focused on Mount Pleasant neighborhoods near campus. Officers in camouflage knocked on doors and checked possible hiding places, such as yards and porches. In the surrounding community, students and staff in the Mount Pleasant school district were told not to leave nine buildings.
Klaus said Davis was taken to a hospital Thursday night by campus police because of a drug-related health problem, possibly an overdose.
“Whether there was a mental health component that was in conjunction with that, we don’t know,” Klaus told reporters, adding that police were still putting together “pieces of the puzzle” about the shooting and any motive.
The Davis family is from Plainfield, Illinois, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. Davis Jr. graduated from Central High School in 2016, said Tom Hernandez, a spokesman for Plainfield School District 202.
Bellwood Police Chief Jiminez Allen released a statement Friday night praising Davis Sr.’s work.
Davis’ “contributions to our community positively impacted everyone he served and served with,” Allen said.
The shooting occurred on the last day of classes before a weeklong break. Parents who were trying to pick up students were told instead to go to a local hotel where staff would assist them while the manhunt was ongoing.
Student Tyler Whipple was driving through campus when his route was blocked by police cars at the scene of the killings. He had to catch a flight to Florida.
“These roads are kind of spooky right now,” Whipple said.
The school posted an alert Friday morning on social media about shots being fired at Campbell Hall. An automated phone message was sent to students.
Halie Byron, 20, said she locked herself in her off-campus house, about a 10-minute walk from the dorm. She had planned to run errands before traveling home to southeastern Michigan.
“It’s scary thinking about how easy a shooter can come into a college campus anywhere — a classroom, a library. There’s so much easy access,” Byron said.
White reported from Detroit. News researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York City