LUBBOCK, Texas - Authorities say a Texas Tech University student confessed to killing a campus police officer who was booking him on a drug possession charge.
Texas Tech Police Chief Kyle Bonath it was a call from a concerned family member that led them to the dorm room of 19-year-old Hollis Daniels III on Monday afternoon.
“TTPD received information of a student acting erratically who was reported to be in possession of a weapon,” Bonath said.
Police say Daniels was not there when officers arrived but showed up a short time later and was taken in for drug possession by 48-year-old Officer Floyd East Jr.
Police have not said whether Daniels was searched prior to being taken into police headquarters. But according to an affidavit, the 19-year-old student was not wearing handcuffs as Officer East processed the booking records with his back to Daniels.
"During this time, the student pulled a gun and fatally shot Officer East,” Bonath said.
A second officer heard the shot from another room and returned to find Officer East fatally wounded. Daniels was gone. The affidavit says East's police body cam was missing but “his pistol was in his holster."
For more than an hour, with the Texas Tech campus on lockdown and students sheltering in place, Daniels’ family called again.
“During this timeframe, the TTU Counseling Center advised the Texas Tech Police Department that the students’ family had called to express concern that the student might be in possession of a weapon and making comments about suicide,” the chief said.
When Daniels was captured, the affidavit says Daniels immediately confessed and told officers he had done "something illogical" and that "he was the one who shot their friend."
Police recovered a .45 caliber pistol and the officer's body camera, but it's still not clear how or where Daniels got the gun. In his mugshot, Daniels appears to be smirking.
Daniels was a freshman student studying Communications Arts at the university. Online records show he’d been arrested twice recently for possessing marijuana and speeding. He’s now charged with capital murder of a peace officer and is being held in the Lubbock County Jail on a $5 million bond.
The 19-year-old student is from a prominent family in the San Antonio suburb of Seguin. He graduated from Seguin High School in 2016. He’s the son of H. A. "Dan" Daniels, who was a city councilman from 1998 to 2002 and again from 2006 to 2010 when term limits prevented him from running for re-election. He didn't immediately reply to phone messages seeking comment that were left at a family business and calls to the family's home got a busy signal.
Manuel Cevallos is a former city council member who served alongside Dan Daniels. The family once owned a theater in the downtown square. Cevallos says he once offered him the theater space for a fundraiser to collect heaters for those in need.
“He was very good-hearted. All of his intentions on the city council, every decision he made was for the betterment of the community for all people all different races all people. He's just an awesome individual,” Cevallos said about Daniels’ father. “This is devastating, you know. This is a small community. We don't really experience things like this."
What happened Monday night is difficult for those who knew the Daniels to wrap their minds around.
“The poor police officer's family and everything, it's just sad what's going on around the country,” Cevallos said.
Officer Floyd leaves behind a wife and two girls. He began his career with Texas Tech in December 2014 as a security guard.
"The family of the officer is in the thoughts and prayers of the Texas Tech community," said Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec. "I want to express my deep appreciation to the Texas Tech Police Department, Lubbock Police Department, Lubbock Sherriff's Office, and other state and federal law enforcement officials for their response."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a statement about the shooting late Monday, saying "hearts go out to the family of the police officer killed." Abbott also said he had mobilized state law enforcement resources to aid in the investigation.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he'll travel to Texas Tech University to meet with administrators and law enforcement officials following the fatal shooting of a campus police officer.
Paxton said in a statement that he'll be in Lubbock on Tuesday "to offer the entire support" of his office.
Texas Tech is a public research university in the city of Lubbock.