MOUNT PLEASANT (WJRT) (3/2/2018) - Whitney Smith has done this before, but that didn't make the moments after a double homicide on the floor below her any easier to handle.
Whitney Smith talks with ABC12 by phone in her fifth floor dorm at Campbell Hall in the Towers residence hall complex on the campus of Central Michigan University.
Smith, a junior at Central Michigan University, lives in a dorm on the fifth floor of Campbell Hall in the Towers residence hall complex on the west side of campus.
Friday morning, 19-year-old James Eric Davis Jr. is accused of shooting and killing his parents on the fourth floor of the dorm. They were there to pick him up for spring break, which started Friday for Central Michigan students.
Smith said the shooting took place directly below her, but she did not see or hear anything unusual. She woke up around 9 a.m. to several calls and texts from people worried about her safety.
Once she learned what happened, she got up, locked the main door to the four-bedroom suite she shares, barricaded the door with furniture and locked herself into her bedroom.
Her roommates already had left for spring break, so she spent the next five and a half hours alone and locked down in the residence hall while a search for Davis continued.
“I was absolutely terrified,” Smith said. “This morning, I was a wreck and barricaded in my dorm. I didn’t know what to do. I called my dad and that was probably the worst phone call I’ve ever had to make.”
Smith is a native of Connecticut and was locked down in high school when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place.
“I made this call a couple years ago when I got a text saying are you safe from there … so it’s déjà vu happening all over again,” she said.
Smith knew of Davis from sharing the elevator with him a few times. She couldn't believe what he was accused of.
"He just seemed like a normal guy just going up to his room like anybody else," Smith said. "He seemed very nice, would carry on a normal conversation just talking in the elevator. Nothing really seemed too off from my opinion."
She and other students were not surprised someone was able to bring a gun into the residence hall. The facility is labeled a gun-free zone, but they say university officials have no way of enforcing that.
With no metal detectors or other security measures at the entrances, Smith said someone easily could put a gun inside a bag and carry it to their dorm room undetected.
"It really sucks to say, but (the gun-free designation) really doesn't do a lot," said Tyler Whipple, who lived in the Towers. "How are you going to monitor these gun-free zones. It's really kind of tough."
Police went door to door in the residence hall to let students out in the mid-afternoon. Smith was allowed to leave around 2:45 p.m.
The fourth floor of Campbell Hall remained locked down into Friday evening while investigators continued processing the scene of the shooting in Davis' room.
Police urged everyone in the city of Mount Pleasant to remain indoors on Friday during the search for Davis. He was last seen running north along a set of railroad tracks on the west side of campus.
Davis is approximately 5-foot-10 and 135 pounds. He is wearing mustard yellow jeans and a blue hoodie. He may have taken off the blue hoodie.
Anyone who sees Davis is asked to avoid contact with him and call 911 immediately. He is considered armed and dangerous.