More than 100 police officers, some heavily armed in camouflage uniforms, searched neighborhoods near Central Michigan University on Friday for a 19-year-old student suspected of killing his parents at a dormitory and then running from campus.
The 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.
Police released a photo of James Eric Davis Jr., urging the public to call 911 if they see him but also warning 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, Lt. Larry Klaus said.
“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” Klaus said of Davis.
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.
The university identified the two dead as his parents, James Davis Sr. and Diva Davis. The shooting occurred around 8:30 a.m. at a residence hall at Central Michigan, which is about 70 miles north of Lansing.
Klaus said video at the dorm suggests Davis left on foot after the shooting. He was wearing a hoodie but shed 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 was 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.
Klaus said Davis was taken to a hospital Thursday night by campus police because of a drug-related health problem, possibly an overdose. The Davis family is from Plainfield, Illinois, about 38 miles (61 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. Davis Jr. graduated from Central High School in 2016, said Tom Hernandez, a spokesman for Plainfield School District 202.
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.
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.