university and local police said 19-year-old James Eric Davis Jr., of
Plainfield, was taken into custody after being seen passing through the
campus after midnight Saturday.
“Law enforcement personnel responded and arrested the suspect without incident,” according to the university’s website.
said Friday evening they had more than 100 officers from multiple
agencies searching. They had warned that Davis should be considered
armed and dangerous.
The victims were identified by authorities as
Davis’ parents, James Eric Davis Sr. and Diva Jeneen Davis. Davis Sr.
was a police officer in west suburban Bellwood and an Illinois National
Guard veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Diva Davis’s
Facebook page identified her as a real estate broker; friends said she
was also a breast cancer survivor and had worked as a flight attendant.
who knew the family called Davis Jr. “respectful” and “a good kid” and
his parents “upstanding,” and said they saw no obvious signs of trouble
with the teenager, who was a sophomore at the school in Mount Pleasant,
“He was a good kid, always,” said Deantre DeYoung, 20, who
met Davis Jr. when they were high school freshmen at Plainfield South
High School and had kept in touch. “You would never expect something
like this to come from James.”
The Davises were reportedly picking
up their son from college for spring break when the shooting happened
about 8:30 a.m. inside Campbell Hall on campus.
But Lt. Larry
Klaus of the campus police department said Davis Jr. was taken to a
hospital Thursday night by campus police because of a drug-related
health problem, possibly an overdose. Authorities did not elaborate.
Police Chief Jiminez Allen confirmed Friday that Davis Sr. was a
part-time officer in the village and called it “a very difficult time”
for the department.
An Illinois legislator whose district includes
Bellwood, Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said in a Tweet on
Friday afternoon: “My sincerest condolences go out to the family of
Bellwood Police Officer James Davis Sr. and his wife who were shot and
killed this morning. May they RIP.”
The younger Davis attended Plainfield South High for three
years, then completed high school at Plainfield Central, where he played
basketball and graduated in 2016, Plainfield Community School District
202 officials confirmed.
They declined any further comment “out of respect to the family.”
Murphy, a longtime friend of Davis Sr., said they worked together as
Illinois Army National Guard recruiters after being deployed together as
part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Murphy said Davis Sr., who went by
Eric, brought his son to Murphy’s home on several occasions.
was a very respectful man, raised by upstanding parents, who would do
anything to protect him and his siblings,” Murphy said. “This is an
incredibly tragic event, and I pray for Eric's other children. This is
so incredibly out of character, something went wrong somewhere.”
Murphy called Eric and Diva Davis “loving, ever-present parents who doted on their children.”
Besides Davis Jr., the couple had a daughter and another son.
Col. Brad Leighton, public affairs director of the Illinois National
Guard, said Davis Sr. served with the guard for 24 years before retiring
His time in the guard included a 2003 deployment to
Iraq, when he was with the 1244th Transportation Co. out of North
Riverside. Later, he worked as a recruiter out of the Joliet Armory,
Julian Leal, who lives on the same block as the
Davis home in Plainfield, called Davis Sr. a good neighbor, the type who
would shovel out his neighbors after a snowstorm.
“We had picnics
in our backyard,” Leal said. “I just had a beer with him last week. We
talked about our kids who are in college. He was proud of his son.”
Leal added there was no hint of any problems or violence.
all confused and at a loss,” he said. “We’re telling our kids to be
strong and pray for them. They wouldn’t want us to fall apart.”
shooting occurred on the last day of classes before spring break at the
Mount Pleasant campus, which is about 70 miles north of Lansing and is
about a 270-mile drive from Chicago. 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.
The school posted an
alert Friday morning on social media about shots being fired at Campbell
Hall. An automated phone message also was sent to students.
Byron, 20, said she locked herself in her off-campus house, about a
10-minute walk from Campbell Hall. She had planned to run errands before
traveling home to the Detroit area.
“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.
Chicago Tribune’s Robert McCoppin and Rosemary Sobol contributed. Associated Press contributed.