Hollis Daniels, a 19-year-old college student at Texas Tech University and scion of a movie theater owning family, is the accused shooter of a campus police officer, who was gunned down in police headquarters while allegedly debriefing Daniels in a drug investigation, the university confirmed.
The slain officer has been identified by police as Floyd East Jr., a 48-year-old married father of two.
Daniels, who went by the name “Reid,” hails from a prominent family of theater owners in Seguin, Texas and was a communications arts student whose mother is a well-regarded travel writer, according to his Facebook page and other social media accounts. He was taken into custody around 9:30 p.m. on October 9 after fleeing on foot. The shooting caused panic throughout the locked down campus. His father is a former city councilman from a family with long roots in the small community where he is from.
Daniels, who has been charged with capital murder, allegedly confessed to the slaying once caught, telling police he “f****d up” and did “something illogical,” according to a warrant obtained by Everything Lubbock.com.
Social media reports flooded in of a possible “active shooter,” but no one else was shot.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Shooting Started With a Student Welfare Check After Daniels’ Mother Told Police He Was Suicidal, Reports Allege
In a statement, campus authorities said that the incident started when Texas Tech police made a student welfare check. According to Newsweek, Daniels’ mother told police that her son was suicidal, “prompting the dorm room visit.” Newsweek reported that “one of Daniels’ suitemates reported ‘odd behavior'” from Daniels.
“Before he was located by police, police said Daniels’ family called the campus counseling center expressing concern that the suspect was making comments about suicide and possibly had a weapon,” Fox News reported.
The university then outlined a horrific sequence of events.
Upon entering the room, officers allegedly “found evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia,” a statement from the university revealed. Newsweek reports that Daniels wasn’t in the room, but police then tracked him down.
Officers brought the suspect to the police station for standard debriefing. “During this time, the suspect pulled a gun and shot an officer in the head. The officer is deceased. The suspect fled on foot and is currently still at large. Texas Tech University campus is on lockdown,” said the statement from Texas Tech campus PR.
According to Lubbock Online, “It is unclear if Daniels had the weapon on him upon entering the campus police station.” The newspaper reported that Daniels lived on campus. Classes will be held Tuesday morning, the newspaper reported.
Everything Lubbock.com obtained a warrant in the case that provides further details. The news site redacted the slain police officer’s name because it had not yet been released by authorities on October 10. The warrants says that Daniels was arrested by the officer “for possession of a control substance. Officer XXXX transported Hollis Daniels to the Texas Tech Police Department where Officer XXXX was completing booking paperwork for Hollis Daniels arrest.”
At that time, another officer reported that “Officer XXXX was completing paperwork at the computers in the briefing room. Corporal Snelson observed Officer XXXX facing the computers while Hollis Daniels was facing in the opposite direction. Officer XXXX and Hollis Daniels were slightly offset from each other. At the time Hollis Daniels was not wearing handcuffs. Corporal Snelson left the briefing room and went to an office nearby.”
Shortly after, Corporal Snelson “heard a bang from the briefing room. Corporal Snelson went back into the briefing where he saw Officer XXXX with an apparent gunshot wound. Hollis Daniels was no longer in the room, A .45 caliber shall casing was located near Officer XXXX, Corporal Snelson also advised Officer XXXX’s police body camera was missing and Officer XXXX’s pistol was In his holster,” the warrant read, according to Everything Lubbock.com.
When arrested, “a .45 caliber pistol loaded with RP ammunition was located where Hollis Daniels was arrested. A police body camera was also located near where Hollis Daniels was arrested. Hollis Daniels stated to officers that he was the one that shot their friend,” the warrant alleges.
It was a chaotic night on campus.
At 8:50 p.m., the university said in an update that the situation remained ongoing: “Update: 8:50 p.m. 10/9/17. This is an update from Texas Tech University. The current situation is ongoing. Continue to shelter in place. We will provide more information as it becomes available. More information at emergency.ttu.edu.” At 9:20 p.m., the university reported, “Campus remains on lockdown. Police Officers brought suspect to station for debriefing. Suspect shot an officer, fled on foot. Still at-large.” However, a short time later came the news that Hollis A. Daniels was in custody, and the lock down was lifted.
Texas Tech later gave the “all clear.” Lubbock police said that Daniels was apprehended when a “Texas Tech Officer was able to tackle the suspect as he fled & took him into custody. LPD officers were close behind & assisted.”
Video showed Daniels being taken into custody:
According to online records, Daniels is from Seguin, Texas, which is located six and a half hours south of Lubbock, near San Antonio.
2. Arrest Records Show That Daniels Had Prior Contact With Campus Police
Online arrest records showed that Daniels was allegedly arrested by Texas Tech campus police in September 2016. The report says:
Full Name: Hollis Alvin Daniels
Time: 9:29 PM
Arresting Agency: TTPD
The alleged offenses were drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. It’s not clear how the case was resolved. Some local news sites reported that Daniels was a freshman, although this could not be confirmed in light of the 2016 campus police arrest.
Here is the pertinent segment of the campus police report on the prior incident:
Daniels’ mugshot was also taken in another jurisdiction for a traffic offense.
Students were told to take shelter as the incident broke the evening of October 9. The student newspaper reported, “There is heavy police and SWAT presence at Boston Ave and 19th Street on campus currently.”
Texas Tech released an emergency alert via its website early on. It read, “This is an emergency notification from Texas Tech University. A shooting has been reported at the Texas Tech Police Department. At this time, the shooter is still at large. The campus is on lockdown. Take shelter in a safe location. Additional information to come. For more information go to emergency.ttu.edu.”
3. Daniels’ Prominent Family Ran a Chain of Movie Theaters for Years & His Mother Is an Accomplished Travel Writer
A birth announcement for the suspect in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise said that “Seguin City Councilman H. A. ‘Danny’ Daniels and his wife, Janis Turk Daniels announce the birth of their son, Hollis Alvin James Reid Daniels, HI, born at Guadalupe Valley Hospital on July 23, 1998.” The child was called “Reid,” the newspaper reported.
Janis Turk Daniels, who also goes by the name Janis Turk, is an accomplished travel writer in Texas, according to her website and LinkedIn page. Her website says her new book Frommer’s Texas was recently published nationwide. Her Facebook page contains photos of Hollis Daniels, called “Reid.”
On LinkedIn, she says she has been a travel and food writer for 22 years. “My work has appeared in Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine, United Airlines Hemispheres magazine, Luxx Living, THRIVE NYC, New York City+, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The San Antonio Express-News, GoNomad.Com, San Antonio Woman, Gambit Weekly of New Orleans and more,” she wrote. The page says she is a Texas Tech “parent” since 2016.
She wrote on LinkedIn that she had also worked as a professor and “hosted four travel segments as a travel expert for the Turner/CNN Airport Network, appearing on televisions in airports across the USA.”
She had recently written about gun control on Twitter, advocating for it.
An obituary for a theater employee reported that the Daniels family theater properties dated back at least to the 1960s. It said that the employee had worked for Mr. H.A. “Windy” Daniels and his wife, Maxie, of Seguin Theatres Inc., “working at the Palace Theatre, The Texas Theatre, the Dixie-Drive Inn, and other Daniels theaters and properties in South Texas.” The obituary reported that Danny Daniels, Hollis’ father, was the son of H.A. and Maxie Daniels.
The book Haunted Seguin traces the history of the theater family back to the 1890s. In 1890, came the birth of what the book calls a “remarkable entrepreneur named Hollis Alvin Ward ‘Windy’ Daniel (who later added an ‘s’ to his name to become Daniels.)”
According to the book, the Daniels’ ancestor was known for his “quick and raging temper” but also for being generous and warm-hearted. He was fascinated by vaudeville, and eventually started buying numerous theaters throughout Texas. The Daniels family owned Seguin’s “distinguished Texas Theatre,” which the book said was later called the Stephen and Mary Birch Texas Theater, for over 60 years.
They sold it in the 1990s for “a small sum to the Conservation Society to ensure that the theater would be preserved as a special Seguin landmark for the community to enjoy,” the book reports, adding that the family also “delved into the oil-well business and even a gambling place called the Spider House.” Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks wanted the Daniels ancestor to come work for them, but he declined, according to the book, which alleges that a ghostly apparition has been spotted on a theater property.
It was a very frightening scene at Texas Tech as reports came in of the SWAT team looking for the gunman on campus. It was not clear whether he had left the campus grounds or not for some time, although by some reports he fled in a BMW. However, he was eventually captured without further incident.
According to NBC 5, early on, “The Lubbock SWAT team is on scene looking for the gunman.”
Local media published some grainy images of the capture.
According to Buzzfeed, Texas Tech Police Chief Kyle Bonath said in a news conference that the student “had somehow procured a weapon during questioning at the police station,” and “mortally wounded one of our officers” before fleeing.
The chief initially said the weapon was a 9-millimeter handgun, “but would not reconfirm that. Police said they do not know how Daniels obtained the weapon,” Buzzfeed reported, adding, “the law allows people to carry concealed firearms on Texas’ public university campuses, including in buildings, classrooms, and dorms.”
However, you have to be at least 21 to campus carry in Texas, unless you’re in the military. Daniels is 19. The Texas Democratic Party has now “apologized for linking the fatal shooting of a campus police officer on Monday to the state’s new law allowing concealed carry at colleges and universities,” reported The Dallas Morning News.
4. Daniels Studied Communication Arts at Texas Tech, His Facebook Page Says & He Wrote ‘My Every Move is a Calculated Step’ on Instagram
Hollis Daniels’ Facebook page is in a different name. It says that he was Co-Manager at The Palace Theatre and “Studies Communication Arts – Radio, TV, Mass Media Studies at Texas Tech University.” As for his political leanings, he had liked Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama on Facebook, although there’s no evidence of any political motivation in the shooting. He also liked the conservative site Proud to Be an American.
The page says that he went to Seguin High School and New Braunfels Christian Academy and was from Seguin, Texas. The photos on it show him to be somewhat younger.
“Will Smith. Change the World,” reads the graphic he used as his cover photo.
His Instagram profile reads, “May the best of your today be the worst of your tomorrow, but we aint even thinkin that far ahead… TTU.”
In one post, he wrote, “Why God, why God do I gotta suffer?”
Other recent captions on his Instagram page say things like this (some dating back several months):
“My every move is a calculated step.”
“Recollect your thoughts, dont get caught up in the mix because the media is full of dirty tricks and only God can judge me..”
“In a daze cuz I found God…”
“God bless America, you know we all love it..”
“Happy Father’s Day Pops.”
“‘Drink a lot of soda so they call me Dr. Pepper’ – Phife.”
“Beasts are not burdened by the pain of man.”
“I ain’t really that good at goodbyes; I ain’t really that bad at leaving..”
“Psst, imma make millions.”
“Maybe if I could live hundred years that’d be real…”
On a picture with his mother, “I appreciate how you raised me, and all the extra love that you gave me.”
“Word to Christ, a disciple of streets..”
His visible Facebook posts date back several years. For example, one in 2012 read, “Minecraft update is out for xbox. No life here I come.” And: “Going to county fair now. Left school early.”
In 2012, he wrote on Facebook, “So I’m kind of excited about an English paper I’m doing. Yeah i know what your thinking, ‘Who is on Reid’s account I wonder?’ No its really me. Its a first person biography that I am going to do on my uncle Harry Benson. It has to be based on a hard decision in their life. He was in London and basically he was going to go to Africa on a business trip but his boss called him the day before he left and changed the plans. His boss wanted him to go follow a band around in Paris. He argued for a while, He had been to Paris before and he didn’t want to follow a garage band around. The difficult decision was going to Africa and risk losing his current employer or following a boring band around. He was talked into following the band. He flew to Paris and followed them around a few months not as a stalker but he became their friend and stayed with them and stuff. They flew to America after a few months. When they landed he took a picture. It was then that he realized that The Beatles were bigger than he had imagined.”
Other than some photos, the 2012 posts are the most recent on Facebook. He appeared to be more active on Instagram recently.
The entire university was at a standstill. The university cancelled all intramurals to ensure student safety.
A local television station, KCBD, was among the first to report that an officer was killed. “Lubbock police confirm that a Texas Tech police officer has been shot and killed at Texas Tech Police Headquarters,” the television station reported. “It happened around 8 p.m. on Monday night at Texas Tech Police Department headquarters, 413 Flint Avenue.”
The television station provided this early description of the suspect, although the situation was just unfolding: “Early reports say the shooting suspect is 6 feet tall, 140 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.” Judging from old pictures of the accused Hollis Daniels, the description was at least generally accurate.
5. Terrified Students & Parents Expressed Their Fears on Social Media
It’s a scene that’s become all too common; people taking to social media in utter panic over an active shooter situation.
“Active shooter on campus and we are on lockdown. Cops everywhere helicopters everywhere. I’m safe,” wrote one young man in a social media phenomenon that has become all too familiar of late, with the Las Vegas mass shooting still on many people’s minds.
One man wrote this account on Twitter, but authorities had not verified it as rumors and panic spread: “Just heard shooter may be at Talkington hall, if you know anybody there please tell them to stay inside make sure no one can get in.” The opinion editor for the student newspaper tweeted that the suspect appeared to be driving a silver BMW, but this had not been confirmed by authorities, either.
The governor released a statement offering condolences.
A memorial was held to honor Officer East.
Demonstrating how frightening the situation was for parents and students alike as it unfolded in a fast-paced manner, one woman wrote on Twitter, “Praying my son is safe 🙏🏼,” to which another person responded, “Don’t call or text him after it’s all clear. If he is in hiding and you call or text, it may endanger him. Praying for you and him.”