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CMU Shooting Suspect Finally Taken Into Custody

MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/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 an operator of a train passing through the north end of campus spotted him standing along the tracks just north of Bellows Street, shortly after midnight. Police say Davis was apprehended within minutes of being spotted. He is currently in custody, under guard at the hospital.

James Eric Davis Jr.
James Eric Davis Jr. (Courtesy CMU police)

"The danger that our community has experienced over the last 24 hours or so is now over," said CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley.

Friday's shooting at Campbell Hall happened on a day when parents were arriving to pick up students for the beginning of a week-long 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. inside of Davis' dorm room.

"It's very difficult for all of us to say on our campus, two people were killed," said Yeagley. "What makes this, I don't know, worse or better -- I guess you have to figure out for yourself -- is it was really a domestic issue. It was a mother and a father and a son."

Police say their interactions with Davis started on Thursday, when he came to a campus officer saying he was frightened and someone was going to kill him. After investigating his claims, which were described as vague, police deemed there was no threat and sent Davis on his way. Roughly four hours later, officers came upon Davis in the hallway of his dorm with suitcases and bags, but he seemed confused and incoherent.

"The officers approach him to say 'Hey, are you alright? What's going on? I thought you were going home tomorrow?' and Mr. Davis, again, acts in a fashion that isn't reasonable or logical," Yeagley said. "He was not able to make a lot of sense."

At the request of police, Davis called his parents. Officers spoke to his mother, told her what they observed, and police say she expressed concern about possible drug use. At that point, arrangements were made for police to take Davis to the hospital for observation as his parents traveled to the university. Davis was kept at the hospital overnight and was released to his parents in the morning. From there, the family headed back to the residence hall.

At some point, Davis ended up in the parking lot as his parents were packing up belongings from his fourth floor room. A witness told police that Davis was then seen coming from the parking lot with a gun in his hand. He entered the residence hall, went up to the fourth floor and fatally shot his parents, Yeagley said. He then fled on foot.

"Whether there was a mental health component that was in conjunction with that, we don't know," Lt. Larry Klaus said told reporters, adding that police were still putting together "pieces of the puzzle" about the shooting and any motive.

Prior to the shooting, police hadn't even heard of Davis.

"Mr. Davis was not ever reported," said Yeagley. "He had had no interaction that we're aware of in any negative fashion with anybody prior to this incident."

Police recovered the weapon at the scene of the shooting. It is legally registered to Davis' father, according to Yeagley, but it wasn't immediately clear if the gun is his department-issued service weapon.

Police say Davis, Sr. did violate the campus' "gun-free zone" by bringing the weapon onto the property, regardless if he is a law enforcement officer in Illinois.

Video at the dorm suggested that Davis had fled on foot after the shooting. He was wearing a hoodie but had been shedding certain clothes while on the run.

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.

Video at the dorm suggested that 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," said university President George Ross.

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.

The Davis family is from Plainfield, Illinois, about 38 miles 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. His "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.

A 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.

Police note there are no metal detectors in the dorms, and that the campus is "a gun-free zone."

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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