NEW: LPD Chief provides more details into murder of Texas Tech o

NEW: LPD Chief provides more details into murder of Texas Tech officer

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The Lubbock Police Department is leading the investigation into the murder of Texas Tech Police Officer Floyd East Jr., while the Tech PD is handling the investigation and review of its procedures. LPD Chief Greg Stevens specified this during a news conference Thursday morning. 19-year-old student Hollis Daniels is charged with capital murder of a peace officer in Officer East's death.

“This is a delicate investigation, we’re still in the early stages of it,” Stevens said.

Lubbock Police first pulled over Daniels early Monday morning. Stevens detailed a stolen gun report made late Sunday night into early Monday morning, about 20 hours before the officer was killed. According to LPD, a .45 caliber gun was reported stolen from a home in Lubbock late Sunday night or early Monday morning. According to the arrest report, a .45 caliber gun was used to shoot Officer East. While en route to the home, an officer saw a vehicle that matched suspect description. Stevens said officers pulled Daniels over. An officer asked Daniels for permission to search the vehicle; he didn't give consent.

Stevens said there was not enough probable cause to search the vehicle or to get a warrant. He said it would’ve been unconstitutional for the officers to search the vehicle. “There’s no criticism to be had of the officers at that time.”

Police then went to the home. They took a report for a stolen weapon and terroristic threat. Stevens clarified this doesn’t mean the suspect made a threat of terrorism or a bombing. Under the Texas penal code, it can mean a range of things. “Very simply, the individual threatened to do very isolated, very specific harm to the reporting party,” Stevens said. He added it’s a Class B misdemeanor. A federal grand jury indicted Daniels on a stolen weapons charge Wednesday.

Later on Monday, reports were made to the Texas Tech Police Department that led officers to make a check welfare visit to Daniels’ dorm room. Stevens wouldn’t specify who made the call or calls. Officer East was among the officers responding. After finding drugs and drug paraphernalia, Daniels was taken to the Texas Tech Police Department.

Stevens wouldn’t give much detail on what happened while Daniels was at Tech PD. Not speaking specifically about Monday night, Stevens said there are times when a suspect won’t be in handcuffs in a police department or processing area. He said it could be to sign papers, to go to the bathroom, or other reasons. Stevens confirmed there were other people at Tech PD headquarters at the time.

“He was searched while in custody. Unfortunately, he was able to gain access to a weapon,” Stevens said. He added that Texas Tech PD will later detail why the suspect wasn’t handcuffed.

The call of shots fired was made at 7:46 p.m. Monday. LPD officers were on-campus by 7:49. Officers from other agencies responded swiftly to join Tech PD and LPD, including the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, Texas DPS, Texas Rangers, FBI and ATF. The DPS helicopter was en route from Amarillo; it returned north because the suspect had been apprehended before the chopper arrived.

Chief Stevens said Daniels ran away from Tech PD headquarters near Fourth Street and Flint Avenue. The Marsha Sharp Freeway runs between that building and most of the Tech campus. Stevens said Daniels tried to make it back to his room at Talkington Hall. He was able to see law officers were already there. He also tried to get to his vehicle, but again, saw law officers. 

Law officers first spotted the suspect around 9:08. A Texas Tech Police officer arrested him within about 20 minutes, near the Coliseum, on the northern edge of campus just south of the Freeway.

Stevens said it's too early to answer several questions on what exactly happened while at Tech PD headquarters. He said Texas Tech PD will answer those in due time. The University's president announced Thursday Tech PD will review its policies and procedures.

Regarding safety of the campus, Stevens said “I want to say, emphatically, it is [safe].” A campus psychologist says it's normal for students to feel concerned, uneasy or anxious right now.

Stevens said he’s proud the LPD can handle the investigation while the Texas Tech PD deals with burying one of its own. He said a review will reveal answers. “It’s very clear that, if everything always went perfectly, sadly, we wouldn’t be good at doing police funerals.”

Stevens said he and many others are moved by the community’s response. “Overwhelming. It’s not surprising.” He said a vigil for Officer East began on-campus around 6 Tuesday evening. Stevens arrived around 7:20 and saw many students were still there. “We’ve had just a huge outpouring of support. It’s overwhelming.” 

A memorial fund has been established for Officer East's family. 

Watch the LPD press conference in its entirety below: 

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