Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski and Central Michigan University police chief Bill Yeagley sat side-by-side in front of a handful of cameras Thursday morning.
As T.V. and news reporters crowded around the table at the Isabella County building, the two took turns depicting the incidents of Wednesday night. They then answered questions about the recent increase in local violence.
“Our community is changing; there’s no question about it,” Mioduszewski said. “Five to 10 years ago, we didn’t see the frequency of the crimes and violence we’re seeing now.”
Wednesday’s string of crimes include a kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, arson, attempted murder, a stolen vehicle and a weapon offense.
The suspect, Mount Pleasant resident Eric Lee Ramsey, 30, and the victim, a CMU senior from the Grand Rapids area, have no connection or prior interaction, but rather their meeting was of random selection, police say.
“It’s just happening, and there’s nothing we can do,” Mioduszewski said. “I know CMU can do some proactive things, as they’ve always done. But a lot of what we’ve seen in our country has been domestic-type situations or individuals with past history of doing very bad things and just continuing to do that.”
Wednesday was also the day President Barack Obama proposed a package that would place a tougher ban on assault weapons, enforcing a 10-round limit on magazines, a ban on possession of armor-piercing bullets and require criminal background checks for gun sales.
Wednesday’s abduction was the most recent in a string of violent incidents in the Mount Pleasant area over the past year, including four murders, at least four people stabbed and the poisoning of a CMU student by her roommate.
Yeagley said these events can’t be prevented completely, though students can be cautious and prepare themselves for violent situations.
“We spend a great deal of time asking people to ask themselves, ‘How would you respond if you found yourself in a violent situation?’,” Yeagley said. “Because America, over the years, is becoming a more violent society. We just have to keep preparing, keep on our toes, keep practicing and keep responding as we do.”
University President George Ross released this statement Thursday:
“Please know that the events of yesterday were a horrible, but isolated incident. Police assure us that history shows CMU has a very safe campus and violent crime here is rare. The world is changing and we are living in a more violent society. We need to look out for each other. When we have opportunities to participate in safety lessons, we should do so, and pay close attention. Information and knowledge really are power.”
In addition to acknowledging Wednesday’s event and campus safety, Ross said the university will double the number of Safe Ride cars available to on-campus students.
Yeagley said CMU remains a safe campus despite the events of Wednesday, and his department wants to do everything it can to make the community safe.
“We do a lot of training about walking in pairs and staying in lit areas,” Yeagley said. “Even though we do all these things, and even though people are paying attention, we will never be able to stop these types of isolated, random incidents. I wish we had the answer, but I don’t believe there is one.”