CHICAGO (CBS) — Kavion Poplous, the Western Illinois University freshman wanted for shooting his roommate in a residence hall late Tuesday night, has turned himself in to police in Chicago.
Poplous, 18, surrendered to Chicago Police on Wednesday afternoon at the Gresham District station on the South Side. Poplous is a student at WIU in Macomb, about 220 miles west of Chicago, but is originally from Chicago.
Western Illinois University confirmed Poplous had been taken into custody by the FBI, with the assistance of Chicago Police, at about 1:35 p.m.
“It takes a lot of courage, a lot of courage to turn yourself in when you know the authorities are looking for you,” said community activist and family friend Darryl Smith.
The university had identified Poplous as the student who shot and injured his roommate in the Thompson Hall dormitory around 10:30 p.m. after an “incident related to a roommate dispute.” At the same time, officials said a fire alarm was pulled and the building was evacuated.
Officials said he fled the scene and was considered armed and dangerous. An arrest warrant for Poplous charges him with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves on Wednesday talked to Poplous’ mother. Off camera, she wanted to make sure people know there is more to the story.
Poplous’ mother told CBS 2 it is unclear how her son got back home to the Englewood neighborhood, but she said he was scared and apologetic.
Family said the teen had just graduated from Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Bronzeville and got a scholarship to the university. He had high hopes of making it out of Englewood, tweeting just days ago, “My whole life bout to change for the better.”
“Just to make it to a college dormitory is a success within itself, and you don’t look for anything like this to happen,” Smith said.
A self-made video blog recently showed Poplous settling in at the university.
“I’ll get up with you all when I get back in my room,” he said in a clip. “Stay blessed. Stay safe.”
Poplous’ family did not justify what officials claim took place. But his mom said he complained before about issues with this roommate, whom he had just met.
Poplous’ family told CBS 2 he was bullied and there was an ongoing conflict with his roommate. His mom tried contacting staff for mediation, but she said nothing happened.
Poplous’ mom said she tried to get her son a new roommate by calling the resident assistant. When Graves asked the school about it, a representative said they weren’t aware of the mom reaching out – but the university’s website said both parties have to agree to mediation.
“Until you learn about this young man and his background, until you learn about the family he comes from, I don’t think you should make any judgement toward him,” Smith said.
If Poplous did have a gun, family doesn’t know why or where he got it from. It was unclear late Wednesday afternoon how the victim was doing, but we do know he went into surgery.
The university canceled classes on Wednesday, and closed its Macomb and Quad Cities campuses in response to the shooting. With Poplous now in custody, school officials said classes will resume Thursday. Campus buildings will remain locked through the end of Wednesday, and residence halls will remain locked through the weekend.
A university spokesperson said the victim is in the hospital and out of surgery. His condition is unknown at this time.
This is a developing story.