MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. –
A 19-year-old Central Michigan University student who attended Plainfield high schools fatally shot two people at a Central Michigan University residence hall Friday and was arrested Saturday morning.
James Eric Davis Jr. was apprehended after an intensive daylong search that included more than 100 police officers, some heavily armed in camouflage uniforms, authorities said. He has been charged with murder and possessing a firearm when committing a felony. He remains under guard at a hospital, where he was taken after his arrest.
Lt. Larry Klaus said Davis also was taken to a hospital Thursday night by campus police because he had been acting so strangely that campus police talked to his mother and then took him to a hospital for suspected drug abuse, authorities said Saturday.
“Whether there was a mental health component that was in conjunction with that, we don’t know,” Klaus told reporters, adding that police still were putting together “pieces of the puzzle” about the shooting, as well as any motive.
University Police Chief Bill Yeagley told reporters that Davis’ parents had just picked him up from the hospital and brought him to his dorm to pack up for spring break when Friday’s shooting happened. He said the gun used in the shooting belonged to Davis’ father, James Davis Sr., who is a part-time police officer in Bellwood, Illinois.
The shooting prompted officials to put the campus on lockdown as police searched for James Eric Davis Jr., who was described as armed and dangerous, officials said. 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.
He was spotted on a train passing through the north end of the Central Michigan campus shortly after midnight Saturday and promptly was arrested.
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 victims as James Eric Davis Jr.’s mother, Diva Davis, and father. The shooting occurred about 8:30 a.m. at Campbell Hall at Central Michigan, which is about 70 miles north of Lansing.
James Eric Davis Jr. graduated from Plainfield Central High School in 2016 after attending Plainfield South High School for three years, Plainfield School District 202 spokesman Tom Hernandez said.
“We will not comment beyond that out of respect for the family,” Hernandez said.
James Eric Davis Jr. played on the basketball team at Plainfield Central, former classmate Myles Turner said. Turner said via a direct message on Twitter that when he moved to Plainfield, James Eric Davis Jr. was one of the first people he met at school.
“[He was] a positive and peaceful individual to not only me and my teammates, but to everyone we met together,” Turner said.
Illinois state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Westchester, tweeted Friday about James Davis Sr., who worked in his district.
“The shooting at Central Michigan University today strikes close to home,” Welch said in the tweet. “A sad day in Bellwood and across the 7th District. My sincerest condolences go out to the family of Bellwood Police Officer James Davis Sr. and his wife who were shot and killed this morning. May they RIP.”
Bellwood Police Chief Jiminez Allen released a statement Friday night praising James Davis Sr.’s work.
James Davis Sr.’s “contributions to our community positively impacted everyone he served and served with,” Allen said.
No other injuries were reported. The university, which has about 23,000 students, urged students to take shelter.
The school posted an alert about 9:30 a.m. on social media about shots being fired at Campbell Hall, a dorm on the campus in Mount Pleasant. An automated phone message from the school also was sent to students.
Parents who were trying to pick up students for spring break were told to stay off campus and go to a local hotel where staff would assist them.
After the shooting, police released a photo of James Eric Davis Jr. and urged the public to call 911 if they saw him, but also warned that he should not 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, Klaus said, adding that James Eric Davis Jr. “should be considered armed and dangerous.”
Klaus said video at the dorm suggested that James Eric Davis Jr. had fled on foot after the shooting. He was wearing a hoodie but had been shedding certain clothes while on the run.
• The Herald-News reporter Alex Ortiz contributed to this report.