Suspected CMU shooter was hospitalized Thursday for 'drug-related' incident

Posted at 8:01 AM, Mar 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-03 10:57:23-05

With his spring break just hours away, Central Michigan University student James Eric Davis Jr. was with his parents in a campus residence hall Friday morning when he shot them dead, police say.

Davis Jr., 19, shot and killed his mother and father in the dorm on the northwestern edge of campus Friday morning, authorities said, leading to an hours-long manhunt that ended with his arrest early Saturday.

It was the nation's12th school shooting this year.

It's not immediately clear what led to the shooting or why the parents, James Eric Davis Sr., 48, and Diva Jeenen Davis, 47, were on campus in Mount Pleasant, a roughly four-hour drive from their Chicago-area home.

But authorities said the student had an encounter with police hours earlier -- on Thursday evening when he was taken to a hospital for what officers believed was a bad reaction to drugs, campus police Lt. Larry Klaus said.

And the parents may have been intending to pick up their son for spring break, said Andre Harvey, mayor of the Chicago suburb of Bellwood, where the elder Davis was a part-time officer.

"The family is in shock and trying to piece everything together," a relative, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN.

Arrest comes after midnight

Details about the younger Davis' arrest weren't immediately clear. But it came early Saturday after someone reporting seeing him on or near campus, the university said.

"The suspect was seen and reported by an individual on a train passing through the north end of campus shortly after midnight," the university said in an online statement. "Law enforcement personnel responded and arrested the suspect without incident."

The shooting, which happened on Campbell Hall's fourth floor around 8:30 a.m. Friday, disrupted a campus that otherwise was winding down for a nine-day spring recess beginning Saturday.

Students were told to stay in campus buildings until the afternoon when police officers started allowing them to leave. People trying to enter the campus to pick up students for spring break were initially directed to a campus-area hotel, where the university asked them to wait for instructions.

The university's men's basketball home game Friday against Western Michigan University was rescheduled for Saturday morning at a neutral site, Northwood University, where it will be closed to the public except for family members, the Mid-American Conference said.

The university, with roughly 23,000 students, is about a two-hour drive northwest of Detroit.

Student had 'drug-related' incident earlier, police say

Campus police spoke with Davis Jr. on Thursday night, Klaus said during a news conference.

"At some point in the evening, he was transported to McLaren Hospital due to what the officers believed may be a drug-related-type incident, an overdose or a bad reaction to drugs. At that point he was released to the hospital staff," Klaus said.

As for Friday's shooting, "we're calling it a family-type domestic issue at this point," he said.

The victims

The Davis family was from the Chicago area. Davis Jr. graduated from a high school in Plainfield, Illinois, about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, in 2016, said Tony Hernandez, Plainfield school district spokesman.

His father was a part-time police officer in Bellwood for 20 years and assisted the department on special occasions.

"He was always there when you asked for him to be there," Bellwood police Chief Jiminez Allen said.

The elder Davis was a pillar of the community, which has 20,000 residents, and was beloved by friends and neighbors, said Harvey, Bellwood's mayor.

An Army veteran, he was also a police officer employed at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, said center director Marc Magill.

"The staff at Jesse Brown VAMC take enormous pride in the care we provide our Veterans, and this situation hits us especially hard. We are currently providing grief counseling for staff," Magill said.

The violence came more than two weeks after a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolin Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead and spurred a national debate over gun control.

Nine weeks into the year and 12 school shootings

CNN's calculation of the number of school shootings include shootings on school property that involve one or more victims and other factors. These can also be domestic violence incidents.

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