DALLAS — Lubbock police officers questioned a Texas Tech University student about a stolen gun hours before he shot and killed a campus police officer, authorities said Thursday.
Hollis Daniels III was driving a car that matched the description of one driven by a person suspected of stealing a gun Sunday evening from a Lubbock home, city police Chief Greg Stevens said at a news conference. He said Daniels, 19, apparently threatened someone at the home, but he declined to say whether Daniels is suspected of stealing that gun.
The officers who stopped Daniels’ car later let him drive off because they didn’t have probable cause or Daniels’ permission to search his car, Stevens said.
“Ultimately, it would have been unconstitutional for the officers to search the vehicle,” he said.
On Monday night, campus police officer Floyd East Jr. went to check on Daniels because there had been reports of a man acting erratically who may be armed. While there, he found drugs and drug paraphernalia, and he arrested Daniels for possession and took him to the station, authorities say.
Stevens said Daniels was searched, but he declined to say whether it was before or after he and East left for the station.
“He was searched during his time in custody but unfortunately he was able to gain access to a weapon,” Stevens said.
While East was booking Daniels, who wasn’t handcuffed, Daniels pulled a gun and shot him before fleeing. He was captured within two hours and is charged with capital murder of a peace officer. He’s being held on $5 million bond. Court records don’t indicate whether Daniels has an attorney, and his family in Seguin, near San Antonio, hasn’t replied to phone messages seeking comment.
In addition to the state murder charge, Daniels was charged Wednesday with a federal count of possession of a stolen firearm. The indictment describes the gun as a .45, which is the same caliber used in the shooting of East.
School officials said Thursday that they’ll conduct an external review of police procedures after Monday’s events in the hopes of improving safety and security at the campus in Lubbock, which is 300 miles west of Dallas.
It took about 35 minutes from the time university officials called the city police for an alert to be sent to students and faculty warning them that an armed suspect was on the loose.
University officials told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the delay happened because the police station where the initial student alert would normally be generated had become a crime scene.
East, 48, was married with two daughters. His family lives in El Paso, which is about 290 miles southwest of Lubbock, and he was about to transfer to patrol university property there, Stevens said.
“Officer East was a fine man doing very honorable work,” he said.