MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — A 19-year-old student suspected of killing his parents at a Central Michigan University dormitory had been acting so strangely the day before that campus police called his mother and then took him to a hospital for suspected drug abuse, authorities said Saturday.
Central Michigan University police Chief Bill Yeagley told reporters that James Eric Davis Jr.’s parents had just picked him up from the hospital and brought him to his dorm to pack up when the shooting happened Friday. He said the gun used in the shooting belonged to Davis’ father, James Davis Sr., a part-time police officer in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood.
Yeagley would not say whether the father had brought the gun to campus when picking up his son, but he noted that Davis Jr. can be seen on video in the dorm’s parking lot with the gun before he entered the residence hall where his parents were shot around 8:30 a.m. Yeagley also would not say what type of gun was used or whether it was Davis Sr.’s service revolver. He also would not say whether drugs had been found in Davis Jr.’s system.
Davis Jr. was arrested without incident shortly after midnight following an intensive daylong search that included more than 100 police officers, some heavily armed in camouflage uniforms, authorities said. Authorities found Davis after someone aboard a train spotted a person along railroad tracks in Mount Pleasant, where Central Michigan University is located, and called police, Yeagley said. Davis appeared to be hypothermic and “not making a lot of sense” when police arrested him, the chief said, and he was again being treated at a hospital on Saturday.
The shooting occurred on a day when parents were arriving to pick up students at the university about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Lansing for the beginning of a weeklong spring break.
Yeagley said that police had first come into contact with Davis Jr. on Thursday morning when he came running into a community police officer’s office in his dorm “very frightened” but “not making a lot of sense.”
“He said someone was out to hurt him, someone was going to harm him, and the officer calmed him down and tried to gain more information about what was going on. … Mr. Davis was very vague and he kept talking about someone having a gun,” Yeagley said.
Davis eventually talked about riding in a dorm elevator with the person, and police went to talk to the individual Davis had identified.
Yet Yeagley said that when officers determined that the person posed no threat — and reviewed video from the elevator that showed Davis and that person laughing and no sign of a threat — Davis said he was fine and was leaving campus Friday for spring break.
Hours later, officers spotted Davis in a dorm hallway with his suitcases, acting strangely, Yeagley said. When officers tried to talk to him, he again wasn’t making sense, Yeagley said. They asked Davis to call his parents, which he did. An officer then spoke to Davis’ mother, Diva Davis, told them about her son’s behavior, their concerns about possible drug use and asked her whether he had a history of drug use, Yeagley said.
“The mother said she too was concerned this could be drugs,” Yeagley said.
Following the shooting, police released a photo of Davis Jr. and urged the public to call 911 if they saw him but also warned that he shouldn’t be confronted.
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.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Davis was found along train tracks, not aboard a train.