My twin was in lockdown for seven hours at the Central Michigan University shooting
‘You’re told to hide, and then you hear noises, and you hear doors, and you think ‘that’s my life right there”
When her phone rang in the middle of her math exam, her first thought was “why is my mom calling me?” Little did she know, it was her university calling her to inform her about an event that was going to forever change her life.
When I got that text from my twin sister, Montana, it felt like everything in my body was going to collapse at once. My stomach sank, tears welled in my eyes, my heart dropped and my brain began to race. Was I about to lose my best friend of 19 years? This was the first of many heartbreaks that occurred Friday.
We now know that on the morning of Friday March 2, James Eric Davis Jr. shot and killed his parents, James Eric Davis Sr. and Diva Jeenen. The shooting occurred after Davis was released to his parents from McLaren Hospital after what seemed to be a drug incident from the night before. The family returned to his dorm, Campbell Hall, where they intended to pack up and return to Illinois for spring break. At one point, Davis went out to the car, grabbed a gun registered to his father, returned to his room, and shot his parents with his roommates still in the suite.
Even now, while the event is still under investigation, it seems less life-altering to those left on campus than events such as Parkland, but even this "cut and dry" situation shouldn't be underestimated.
"It wasn't a mass shooting, but it was still terrifying because you don't know any information when you're in the middle of it, all of your information is coming from people outside," Montana told me. "You're told to hide, and then you hear noises, and you hear doors, and you think 'that's my life right there."
The phone call my sister got wasn't our mother, it was Central Michigan University alerting them that a shooting had occurred. She and her classmates didn't know it, but the doors to the library had already been locked, and they couldn't have left if they had finished. Shortly after a faculty member told them that they would have to stop taking the exam and move into the corner. Even then, my sister didn't think that phone call was from CMU, she still thought our mom was calling to see if she was okay. The students were allowed to have their phones, and promptly began to let their families know they were OK.
For two of the seven hours that the group was in the library, they huddled in the corner of the classroom, silent. My sister told me she purposely made sure she hid behind someone else because she knew her body couldn't take a bullet. Then she told me something that made my heart break.
"When we were in the corner, the door to the classroom opened, it turned out to be a faculty member telling us to put tables up against the door, but my first thought was 'this was my life, here goes my life.'"
As terrible as the situation was, my entire family is taking a sigh of relief that it was domestic, not mass. It was never meant to be mass. After seven hours my sister got escorted to her car by police and she finally was driven home, where we were all waiting with open arms.
Some other students didn't have it so easy. Davis' roommates called the police immediately after the five shots fired through their dorm room. They're dealing with the trauma of seeing the immediate aftermath and the parents bodies. They were interviewed by the police, along with the rest of the fourth floor of Campbell Hall, who were the last to be evacuated from campus.
We're still wrapping our head around what happened. So is the community of Mt. Pleasant, so are investigators. 10 days prior to the shooting, Davis tweeted about how much he loved his family. Now, he left his two siblings without parents.
While Central Michigan students are off to decompress during spring break, investigators will continue to solve the case of how this happened, so the appropriate changes will be made. One thing the university is immediately changing is its counseling. It will be borrowing counselors from other nearby schools to have on hand for when students come back to school.
Everyone always says, "you don't think it will happen to you, until it does." That's definitely how it feels right now. It's hard to digest the fact that I could have lost my sister, and how easily this could have changed. I am thankful for the police, FBI, SWAT and University response that erred on the line of caution. I'm not the only one who thinks this, the entire community does.
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