LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Chief Greg Stevens held a news conference on Thursday to describe LPD's Monday morning encounter with accused TTU shooter Hollis Daniels and to discuss their role in the homicide investigation into the death of Texas Tech Police Officer Floyd East, Jr.
Stevens said LPD involvement with the case actually began on Sunday.
Stevens said LPD received a report of a stolen firearm on Sunday and were investigating that case when they pulled Hollis Daniels over for a traffic stop early Monday morning.
Report of stolen firearm
"A firearm was stolen from a house out in town. That wasn't immediately reported to police, it was reported several hours later at around midnight towards 1 o'clock in the morning, leading into Monday, October 9th."
Lubbock police officers responded to that call and while they were on the way to speak with the reporting party, an LPD officer spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspect's vehicle.
"Officers pulled that car over, met with the suspect, interviewed him, requested consent to search his vehicle, and he refused."
The police report says at 1:18 a.m., a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle was stopped at 19th and Elkhart. The driver of the vehicle, Hollis Daniels, was searched and a firearm was not located. Daniels denied having a firearm in his possession, and denied Lubbock Police officers request to search his vehicle. Officers did not have enough probable cause to search Daniels' vehicle and Daniels was released.
Clarification of 'terroristic threat'
"The initial officer went to the residence, interviewed the people at the residence, took a report for the stolen firearm, and also took a report for what is called terroristic threat."
Stevens clarified the term "terroristic threat," explaining that despite the common usage of the words, in this case the threat referred to an isolated threat involving specific harm to the reporting party. It is a Class B misdemeanor.
"Under Texas law, that basically means a very specific threat against a person," Stevens said. "I don't want you to take that term and think that it means that there was a threat of some terrorist act or some bombing or some thing like that. That's not the case."
Stevens defends decision not to search vehicle
Stevens defended the actions of his officers, explaining that "they're faced with the circumstance of whether or not to search this vehicle. They asked for consent and that was refused. They entertained whether or not they had enough to search it without that consent and they did not."
"There was not enough probable cause to search it on its own nor to get a warrant for the vehicle. They thought there might be perhaps even drugs in the vehicle. They looked into whether or not a drug dog was available to come and sniff the vehicle and there was not one available."
"They looked at a few avenues - ultimately, it would have been unconstitutional for the officers to search the vehicle. There was no arrestable charge. There was nothing to hold the individual on at that time so they released him."
"I want to be very clear on that, there is no criticism to be had of the officers at that time. They wrote their report and went on to the next calls."
Stevens praises law enforcement response
Stevens briefly went through the timeline of the shooting, describing how Texas Tech Police received other calls throughout the day on Monday, leading to the welfare check by TTPD officers on Monday evening.
"We received that call of shots fired within two minutes of it occurring. We got that call at 7:46 p.m."
Stevens said LPD had officers on the campus within three minutes, at 7:49 p.m.
The police report states at 7:44 p.m. on Monday, October 9th, Texas Tech Police Officer Floyd East Jr. was shot and killed. Texas Tech Police Dispatchers notified Lubbock Police Dispatchers at 7:46 p.m. The first Lubbock Police Unit was en route at 7:48:19 p.m. and was on Texas Tech campus at 7:49:50 p.m.
Stevens praised law enforcement agency cooperation and their response to the shooting, assuring parents and concerned citizens that the Texas Tech campus is safe.
Stevens said Daniels was spotted on campus at 9:08 p.m. and taken into custody by a Texas Tech police officer at 9:26 p.m.
The police report states at 9:08 p.m., a credible sighting of Hollis Daniels was reported on Texas Tech campus. At 9:18 p.m., an additional sighting of Daniels was reported – and at 9:26 p.m., Hollis Daniels was taken into custody near the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum by a Texas Tech Police Officer.
"That's a remarkable thing," Stevens said. "Everyone in that response did an outstanding job to keep the students and the faculty of the Texas Tech University campus safe. We were able to contain that situation so that he could not get out into the city, could not go mobile. I'm very proud of that response."
No comment on TTPD policy
Stevens was unable to comment on the specifics of Texas Tech Police Department policy, but he said it is normal for a suspect to be out of handcuffs at some points during the booking process.
He said that Daniels was not being interrogated at the Texas Tech Police Department, he was simply being booked into the jail.
He would not comment on the specifics of how Daniels was able to get a weapon inside the police department, saying only, "He was searched during his time in custody. Unfortunately, he was able to gain access to a weapon and he shouldn't have been."
LPD investigating homicide of Officer Floyd East, Jr.
Lubbock police have been asked to investigate the homicide of Officer Floyd East, Jr., but Stevens said they are only investigating the homicide, not the arrest.
Stevens said LPD conducted a homicide callout on Monday night, assisted by members of the Texas Rangers, Texas DPS laboratory services, members of the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, and the local FBI office.
Hollis Alvin James Daniels, 19, has been charged with capital murder. He is also facing federal charges of possession of a stolen firearm.
"Investigators have a lot of work still to do," Stevens said.