Russell Davis: 'I love (Eric) and have forgiven him'
On March 2, 2018, Russell Davis lost his mother, Diva Davis, and his father, James Davis Sr., in the shooting that occurred on the fourth floor of Campbell Hall. He was not willing to lose his brother, too.
At about 8:30 a.m., James Eric Davis Jr. shot and killed both of his parents, Diva and Davis Sr. in his residence hall room. He had been acting erratically and told Central Michigan University Police officers that he had been taking drugs. He spent the previous night under observation at MidMichigan Medical Center. His parents discharged Russell's brother, who is known by friends and family by "Eric," and were taking him home to the Chicago area.
"It had been about a month or a month and a half (since the incident) before I had the chance to speak with him," Russell said. "He wasn’t in the right mental state. I just let him know that I loved him. That is all that I could really say. He knew what happened and what he was facing.
"All I could do was be there for him and let him know that I loved him and have forgiven him.”
On Jan. 25, Isabella County Trial Court Judge Eric Janes found Eric mentally ill at the time of the incident during a competency hearing. He pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity” at the hearing.
Russell spoke on the family’s behalf regarding their “new normal” after the incident.
“We are doing well. Has it been hard? Yes,” Russell said. “Despite all of the stuff that has happened we are a family of faith and a family of love. We don’t negate the fact that it happened, but we have also learned that life must move on."
Russell is getting married later this year to his fiancé, Kathy Newborn. His sister, Alexis, has better grades than ever as she prepares to graduate high school. She is preparing for college, Russell said, but hasn’t decided on which school to attend. Eric is attending church services at the hospital and participates in classes and activities there, too.
“(Eric) is trying to keep himself active — he’s doing very well,” Russell said. “Everyone is doing well and just moving on with life. We are accepting our new normal.”
Eric and his family continue to communicate. The family has visited Eric in the hospital many times. They often get to speak with him by phone, which has helped Eric during his hospitalization. The first thing that Russell said he told Eric after the killings was that he forgave his brother.
Hours before this interview with Central Michigan Life took place, Russell asked his brother what he would like to say to his classmates at CMU if he had the opportunity to speak to them through this story.
“(Eric) said he would tell his classmates and friends that he is sorry," Russell said. “He apologized for putting them in danger and making an unsafe situation. He also wants (the CMU community) to understand that he was not in the right mental state. He is very appreciative of the love and support that the CMU community has offered him.”
On the morning of March 2, Russell was heading to work and Alexis was preparing for school. Russell was having some problems with his phone that day when people began calling him at work to inform him about the shooting at CMU. Alexis found out about the killings, and the search for Eric, from family members who heard about the incident from news reports.
“There were some people who didn’t understand exactly what had transpired," Russell said. "But after understanding, they have been supportive of all of us — my brother, my sister and myself as well as our grandparents, aunts and uncles.”
Members of the CMU community also reached out to the family to support them in the days and weeks that followed. There wasn’t one person from CMU, Russell said, who reached out that was critical or judgmental.
“Everyone who did reach out was very graceful,” Russell said. “Very supportive, very forgiving. They were caring for my brother, as well, which I was very appreciative of.”