UVA football player accused shooting dead three teammates school bus was on police radar for MONTHS
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.,22, is alleged to have killed three members of the football team but was already known to police having been on their radar since September
A student at University of Virginia who is alleged to have killed three members of the football team was already known to police having been on their radar since September.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.,22, had also been involved in a ‘criminal incident that saw him in possession of a concealed weapon.’
The frank revelations were made by police during a press conference held on Monday following Jones’ arrest after a 13-hour manhunt in the wake of shootings on the school’s Charlottesville campus.
‘Because I want to be transparent with you, I want you to know that … Mr. Jones came to the attention of the University of Virginia’s threat assessment team in the fall of 2022 because he was involved in a hazing investigation of some sort,’ Tim Longo, the school’s chief of police said.
‘I don’t know the facts and circumstances of that investigation. I know it was eventually closed due to witnesses who would not cooperate with the process. But through the course of the threat assessment team’s investigation, they received information that Mr. Jones had made a comment about possessing a gun to a person that was unaffiliated with the university,’ he said.
Arrest warrants for Jones on Monday charged him with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, Longo said.
‘The incident involved a concealed weapon violation that occurred outside the city of Charlottesville in February 2021. What’s interesting about that case [is] he’s required as a student at the University of Virginia to report that, and he never did, so the university has taken appropriate administrative charges through the university’s judiciary council, and that matter is still pending adjudication.’
The person who reported Jones to the police did not witness him with the weapon firsthand – nor was he perceived as a threat at the time.
When the school looked into the February 2021 allegation and checked in with Jones’ roommates, none could confirm that they had ever seen him with a gun.
Nevertheless, Jones had also become known to the university’s threat assessment team after a hazing incident whereupon it was discovered he had a criminal record.
Jones was facing a pending disciplinary matter after failing to report the episode as would have been required by students at the school.
‘Because I want to be transparent with you, I want you to know that … Mr. Jones came to the attention of the University of Virginia’s threat assessment team in the fall of 2022,’ Tim Longo, the school’s chief of police said
The frank revelations were made by police during a press conference held on Monday following Jones’ arrest after a 13-hour manhunt in the wake of shootings on the school’s Charlottesville campus. Pictured, University of Virginia Police Chief Tim Longo speaks during a press conference
University of Virginia President Jim Ryan speaks during a press conference following the shootings
No details were given by police as to what may have occurred and the case was ultimately closed when witnesses decided not to cooperate.
It was during the investigation into the hazing that the school ‘learned about prior criminal incident involving a concealed weapon violation that occurred outside the city of Charlottesville in February of 2021.
‘He’s required as a student at University of Virginia to report that and he never did, so the University has taken appropriate administrative charges through the University’s judiciary council and that matter is still pending adjudication,’ the chief said. ‘I’ll try to do better next time,’ Longo said downbeat.
University President Jim Ryan also spoke during the press conference and said authorities did not have a ‘full understanding’ of the motive or circumstances of the shooting.
‘The entire university community is grieving this morning,’ a visibly strained Ryan said.
It was not immediately clear whether Jones had an attorney or when he would make his first court appearance.
His father, Chris Jones Sr., told Richmond TV station WTVR he was in disbelief after getting a call from police on Monday.
‘My heart goes out to their families. I don’t know what to say, except I’m sorry, on his behalf, and I apologize,’ he said.
Jones had once been on the football team, but he had not been part of the team for at least a year, Longo said. The UVA football website listed him as a team member during the 2018 season and said he did not play in any games.
The killings happened at a time when the nation is on edge from a string of mass shootings during the last six months, including an attack that killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb that killed seven people and wounded more than 30; and a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 people and wounded three.
A Virginia State Trooper watches a tow truck drier as he hooks up a bus believed to be the site of an overnight shooting on the grounds of the University of Virginia on Monday in Charlottesville, Virginia
Members of the University of Virginia community attend a prayer service for the victims of a shooting at the university, at St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia
Students on campus attended a prayer service for the victims on Monday
A woman dabs her eyes while paying tribute to victims of the school shooting at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville
The student community appeared shocked by what had happened in their midst with emotions running high on Monday
Jones, a former player, shot into the school’s bus as it was returning from a field trip at around 10.15pm on Sunday night killing three people and injuring two more.
It remains unclear if he was among passengers on the bus, or if he was waiting for them to return to Virginia. The students had all been in Washington DC attending a play as part of a field trip.
D’Sean Perry, a linebacker for the school’s team who had played on behalf of the school the previous day, was killed, as was wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler. Dontayvion Wicks and Mike Hollins were injured but survived.
Jones was taken into custody on Monday morning, some 13 hours after the crime.
Suspect: Chris Darnell Jones was arrested on Monday
The University of Virginia’s main campus was in lockdown on Monday morning while law enforcement conducted a ‘complete’ search.
It was lifted shortly before Jones was arrested.
University of Virginia’s President James E. Ryan confirmed the casualties in a message to the community at around 4am, saying he was ‘heartbroken to report’ that three people had been killed in the shooting.
It is not yet known where Jones was taken into custody, or what his motive for the attack was.
The UVA emergency account later Tweeted that multiple police departments were actively searching for the suspect, including a Virginia state police helicopter.
The follow-up message reiterated that the suspect was armed and dangerous.
‘As of this writing, I am heartbroken to report that the shooting has resulted in three fatalities; two additional victims were injured and are receiving medical care,’ President Ryan’s message said.
Davis Jr. posted this photo just hours before he was killed. The group had just traveled back from Washington DC
The victims are believed to have traveled back to Virginia from Washington DC on this bus. It’s unclear if the gunman fired into the bus or if he attacked players when they disembarked but two of the three victims were onboard
A Virginia Department of Corrections canine team searches the scene near an overnight shooting that occurred at the University of Virginia, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Charlottesville
Law enforcement personnel move through the crime scene where 3 people were killed and 2 others wounded on the grounds of the University of Virginia on November 14, 2022 in Charlottesville, Virginia
The scene at the university’s campus on Monday morning as police continued to search for the suspect
A Virginia State Police vehicle drives past the University of Virginia Rotunda on Monday. Police captured a student suspected of fatally shooting three members of the school’s football team on Sunday, as they returned to campus from a field trip
A police officer walks up Culbreath Road during an active shooter situation on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022
Bethanie Glover, the Virginia Deputy University spokesperson, speaks to members of the media during an active shooter situation on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022
‘We are working closely with the families of the victims, and we will share additional detail as soon as we are able.
Jones’s motive remains unclear. He is now in custody
‘Our University Police Department has joined forces with other law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect, and we will keep our community apprised of developments as the situation evolves,’ he added.
Earlier, Ryan tweeted: ‘There has been a shooting on Culbreth Road and the suspect is at large and considered armed and dangerous.’
He asked the community to follow the UVA emergency Twitter account for updated alerts and for the community to shelter in place.
UVa sophomore Em Gunter, 19, told the Times-Dispatch that she was in her International Residential College dormitory when she heard six shots ring out. She said she can see Culbreth Road from her window.
‘I just have no words,’ Gunter told the Dispatch. ‘This is insane.’
She told the outlet that she was living in South Virginia in 2007, where the Virginia Tech mass shooting took place – and remains in people’s minds.
The Culbreth Road parking garage sits on University’s main campus, and is little over 1,000 feet from Madison Hall, the university president’s office, and around 1,500 feet from The Rotunda, an iconic building designed by Thomas Jefferson.
Suspect Jones, one of four children, is originally from Petersburg, Virginia, according to his profile on VirginiaSports.com.
He studied for three years at Varina High School, and spent his senior year at Petersburg High School.
His profile describes him in glowing terms: Jones was a member of the National Honor Society, and the National Technical Honor Society, who served as president of Key Club – a society for volunteering in the community.
‘High school student members of Key Club perform acts of service in their communities, such as cleaning up parks, collecting clothing and organizing food drives,’ the website states.
‘They also learn leadership skills by running meetings, planning projects and holding elected leadership positions at the club, district and international levels.’ Jones was also president of Jobs for Virginia Grads Program, and named Student of the Year as a freshman and sophomore at Varina, the site says.
A Charlottesville Police vehicle is parked on Culbreath Road during an active shooter situation on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022
Pictured: Culbreth Road parking garage on University of Virginia’s main campus
According to a 2018 Richmond Times-Dispatch story, he grew up in the Essex Village and Mosby Court housing complexes in Richmond. The report states that his father left the family when Jones was young, and that Jones got into fights at school.
Students who were told to shelter in place beginning late Sunday described terrifying hours in hiding.
While police searched for the gunman through the night, students sought safety in closets, dorm rooms, libraries and apartments. They listened to police scanners and tried to remember everything they were taught as children during active-shooter drills.
‘I think all of us were just really unsettled and trying to keep, you know, our cool and level heads during the situation,’ student Shannon Lake said.
Lake, a third-year student from Crozet, Virginia, ended up spending the night with friends in a lab room, much of the time in a storage closet.
Elizabeth Paul, a student from northern Virginia, was working at a computer in the library when she got a call from her mom, who had received word about the shooting.
Paul said she initially brushed off any concern, thinking it was probably something minor. She realized she needed to take it seriously when her computer lit up with a warning about an active shooter.
‘I think it said, `Run. Hide. Fight,´’ she said.
Paul said she stayed huddled with several others in the library. She spent most of the night on the phone with her mom.
‘Not even talking to her the whole time necessarily, but she wanted the line to be on so that if I needed something she was there,’ she said.
Em Gunter, a second-year anthropology student, heard three gunshots and then three more while she was studying genetics in her dorm room.
She knew right away there was an active shooter outside and told others to go in their rooms, shut their blinds and turn off the lights. For the next 12 hours, she stayed in her room with a friend, listening to a police scanner and messaging her family and friends who were stuck in other areas of the campus.
Students know from active shooter drills how to respond, she said.
‘But how do we deal with it afterwards?’ she asked. ‘What´s it going to be like in a week, in a month?’
Eva Surovell, the editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, noted that her generation grew up with ‘generalized gun violence.’
‘But that doesn´t make it any easier when it´s your own community,’ she said.
Classes and other academic activities were canceled for Tuesday. An impromptu vigil drew a large crowd Monday night, and a university-wide vigil was being planned for a later date. Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered flags lowered to half-staff on Tuesday in respect and memory of the victims, their families and the Charlottesville community.
Scores of worshippers gathered Monday evening on campus at St. Paul´s Memorial Church for a prayer service.
‘Have pity on us and all who mourn for Devin, Lavel and D´Sean, innocent people slaughtered by the violence of our fallen world,’ an officiant said in prayer.
The shooting is the latest in a wave of gun violence on U.S. college and high school campuses in recent years.
The bloodshed has fueled the debate over tighter restrictions on access to guns in the United States, where the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.
Sunday night’s shooting is not the first to have rocked a Virginia college campus this year. In February, two campus police officers were shot and killed as they responded to reports of a ‘suspicious man’ near a building housing classrooms.
The suspect in the shooting was a former student. In that same month, a late-night shooting at a hookah bar near Virginia Tech’s campus left one dead and four injured.
On April 16 2007, Virgina Tech was the site of one of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, when 23-year-old undergraduate Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 others before turning the gun on himself.
Cho, from South Korea, used two semi-automatic pistols in the mass killings.
Since 2002, there have been 14 incidents of gunfire on Virginia college campuses, according to non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization has counted more than 200 shootings on or near colleges in the Unites States since 2013, and 400 at K-12 schools.
Meanwhile, police in the state of Idaho were investigating a separate incident Monday in which four students were found dead in a home near another university campus, believed to be ‘the victims of homicide.’
Officers responded to a call in the town of Moscow, near the campus of the University of Idaho, about an unconscious individual.
‘Upon arrival, officers discovered four individuals who were deceased,’ police said in a statement.
‘It is with deep sadness that I share with you that the university was notified today of the death of four University of Idaho students living off-campus believed to be victims of homicide,’ University of Idaho president Scott Green said in a statement.
Pictured: An aerial view of the Culbreth Road parking garage on the university campus