Mother of Suspect in Western Illinois University Shooting Says ‘Son Isn't a Monster'

The university said the 18-year-old Western Illinois University freshman turned himself in at a Chicago Police Department precinct and was taken into custody by the FBI.

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The mother of an 18-year-old Western Illinois University freshman arrested in connection to a shooting at the school said Thursday she wants the public to know her son "isn't a monster."

Kavion Poplous was in custody Wednesday afternoon, police told NBC Chicago, in connection with the shooting of a Western Illinois University student inside a residence hall during what the school says was a "roommate dispute."

The university said Poplous turned himself in at a Chicago Police Department precinct and was taken into custody by the FBI around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. An arrest warrant was issued earlier in the day for Poplous on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm, the school said.

According to WIU, the shooting happened just after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday inside Thompson Hall at the school's Macomb campus.

In a family statement issued to NBC Chicago by community activist Darryl Smith, who has been in contact with the student’s family, Smith said Poplous' mother, “wants people to know that her son isn’t a monster; he was a godly child going to college trying to better his life.” 

The school's public safety department was responding to the scene when they say a fire alarm was pulled at the building and the residence hall was evacuated.

Early Wednesday morning, WIU released an update saying a male student was shot "by a person known to him, who then fled the scene."

"The incident was related to a roommate dispute, and police believe this is an isolated incident," the school said in its alert, adding that a search for the suspect was underway.

The suspect in the shooting was identified as Poplous, who authorities said "is considered armed and dangerous."

Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University released this photo of 18-year-old freshman Kavion Poplous, who is believed to be involved in a shooting inside a residence hall on the university's Macomb campus.

Information on the student shot, including his condition, was not immediately released, but authorities said during a press conference Wednesday morning the student underwent surgery.

"Our thoughts are with our student who remains hospitalized, and we pray for a speedy recovery," said WIU Interim President Martin Abraham during a press conference.

All scheduled classes at the university, including remote learning courses, were canceled Wednesday following the shooting and both the university's Macomb and Quad Cities campuses were closed. The school is set to resume regular operations Thursday and all residence halls will remain locked through the weekend, the university said.

"I want to thank the swift work of our Office of Public Safety and other law enforcement personnel and first responders for the assistance they provided," Abraham said in a statement. "I'd also like to thank law enforcement, as well as our student services staff and so many others, who worked quickly to ensure our students' safety. Our thoughts are with our student who remains hospitalized, and we pray for a speedy recovery."

Authorities asked that anyone with information on the shooting call 911 or contact Macomb Area Crimestoppers (800) 222-TIPS or (309) 836-2222 or .

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