MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (WWJ) – A manhunt is ongoing in and around the campus of Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant after a student shot and killed his parents.
Everyone on campus was urged to shelter in place following the shooting Friday morning, on or near the 4th floor of Campbell Hall, a student residence hall. [Hear the alert sent to students]
Hours later, authorities said students were being ushered off campus on buses with the assistance of police. Students are instructed to wait for police to arrive and OK their buildings before leaving, while the search for the shooter continues.
Central Michigan University police said James Eric Davis, Jr. fatally shot his parents who had arrived at the dorm to pick him up from school, adding that the killings stemmed from a “domestic situation.” Davis’ father, James Davis, Sr., was a part-time police officer at the Bellwood Police Department in Illinois, according to reports. His mother has been identified as Diva Davis.
Davis, Jr. is described as a 19-year-old black male, approximately 5’9” and 135 lbs. He is considered armed and dangerous and anyone who sees him is asked to call 911 immediately.
He was reportedly wearing mustard colored jeans and a dark blue hoodie, but may have taken the hoodie off at some point. He last seen on foot near some railroad tracks, north of Campbell Hall, where some discarded articles of clothing were found.
CMU Police Lt. Larry Klaus told reporters they did have contact with Davis on Thursday evening when they received a call about difficulties with a student. Davis, Jr. was then taken to the MidMichigan Medical Center “for what the officers believed may be a drug-related type of incident — an overdose or a bad reaction to drugs.”
“At that point he was released to the hospital staff,” Klaus added.
Davis, Jr., later returned to campus, where the shooting took place the next morning.
At this time, police are not disclosing what type of weapon was used, and Klaus would not comment on whether or not Davis. Jr. could have used his father’s police-issued firearm. Police note there are no metal detectors in the dorms, and that the campus is “a gun-free zone.”
With a “soft lockdown” still ongoing on campus, parents seeking to pick up CMU students are told to go to the Comfort Inn on Mission Street to meet with officials who will help them connect with their children.
Updating the media at 4 p.m., Lt. Klaus said multiple police agencies were assisting, with over 100 police officers actively looking for the suspect north of campus. A dense police presence was seen around Mill Pond park, a 90-acre property, and officers were going door-to-door in the area.
Klaus said police have not spotted the suspect nor taken any calls from anyone who has seen him since the shooting. Klaus stressed that anyone who sees Davis, Jr. anything suspicious should dial 911. [LISTEN LIVE to WWJ for the very latest]
Mt. Pleasant Police Public Information Officer Jeff Browne urged community residents to remain in their homes, and to keep any eye out for the suspect. “The big thing that we want everybody to remember is that our community is safe,” he added. “We don’t have many incidents like this, and it’s something that we have a lot of individuals out working very hard to apprehend this individual, so there’s no reason for…mass panic, I guess, is what I wanna say.”
Earlier, all university buildings, Mt. Pleasant schools, city buildings and nearby McClaren Central Michigan Hospital were on lockdown.
All planned campus activities are canceled until further notice, including Friday’s men’s basketball game against Western Michigan University. All classes are canceled on Saturday.
CMU senior Michael Czado spoke with WWJ while sheltering in place in Emmons Hall.
“I think it’s a little scary, you know, especially with what just happened down in Florida and stuff like that,” Czado said, adding that many of his friends are locked down in classrooms and campus cafeterias. “Now we’re here on a college campus and…I don’t know what the reason was. They haven’t caught him yet, so he could be anywhere.”
Sophomore Gina O’Neil, who lives off-campus, said she was scared and continually texting her family. She believed at one point the suspect was across the street from her when she heard helicopters overhead.
“It’s nerve-wracking because a lot of my friends are on campus right now and a lot of my friends also live in the dorms and are in the library right now,” she told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell. “We’ve just kinda been all texting and calling each other and making sure that everyone’s OK, stuff like that.”
Senior Carlee Hoag was holed up in her apparent with the blinds drawn, telling WWJ: “I’ve been really frazzled and bawling for the past like, ten minutes, you know? Who knows what to do in these situations? We all hope we never have to be in them.”
Campbell Hall is part of the four-dorm towers complex at the university, which has about 23,000 students. Klaus said the complex has been evacuated.
Friday is the last day of class at CMU before spring break.
With that in mind, CMU President George Ross urged students to muster the courage talk about the incident during their time off.
“I don’t want them to hold it inside,” Ross said. “Hopefully most of them will be with their families and their loved ones; I think they need to share their experience and talk through it.”
Ross said counseling services will be made available when student return to campus. Asked about safety and security procedures at the school, Ross said it’s not yet time to talk about that.