A man was shot and killed by a campus police officer at the University of Michigan early Tuesday as he stabbed his student girlfriend to death outside their apartment.
The officer, responding to numerous 911 calls, drove into a campus parking lot shortly after midnight and found Tamara Williams, a 20-year-old senior, lying on the ground, being repeatedly stabbed by boyfriend Kevin Nelson, 26.
Campus public safety Director Leo Heatley said the officer fired after Nelson ignored orders to stop.
Investigators followed a trail of blood back to the apartment, where the attack began, and found Williams’ 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Kiera, asleep in her room. Temporary custody of the girl was later awarded to Williams’ mother at a court hearing. Nelson, who was not a student at the school, is not the girl’s father.
Two years ago, Nelson was convicted of domestic assault against Williams and sentenced to 18 months probation.
Williams’ grandmother, Jeanette Hart, said in an interview at her Detroit home that she had met Nelson only twice.
“He said ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir,’ and ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am,”’ she said. “There’s not many people who do that today.”
A friend said Williams told her that despite frequent arguments with Nelson, she wasn’t scared and never felt it was a serious problem.
“We both would talk about our relationships, because that’s what friends do,” said Tamika Pennamon, a 21-year-old student. “She never acted like she feared for her life.”
Nelson began attacking Williams in the basement of the two-story wooden duplex where police found blood. The couple eventually ended up outside, about 200 feet from the back door of the apartment.
Desmond Flagg, who lives in the apartment overlooking the area, said he was getting ready to go to bed when he heard the argument and went outside.
“I moved closer and I told them to stop and that’s when I saw the knife,” Flagg said.
Five to six onlookers also were shouting for Nelson to stop but didn’t move closer because he was armed, said Flagg, who went back into his apartment and dialed 911.
Both Nelson and Williams died during surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center.
The killings marked the second time this week that domestic violence played out in public in southeastern Michigan and ended in death. In both cases, there had been a record of previous abuse.