Suspect caught in fatal shooting of three University of Virginia football players


By SARAH RANKIN (Associated Press)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A University of Virginia student and former member of the college’s football team fatally shot three current players as they returned from a field trip, authorities said, setting off panic and a 12-hour lockdown of the campus until the suspect was captured Monday.

Students who were told to shelter in place starting late Sunday described terrifying hours in hiding. While police looked for the gunman through the night, students sought safety in closets, dorm rooms, libraries and apartments. They listened to police scanners and tried to recollect all the pieces they were taught as children during active-shooter drills.

“I feel all of us were just really unsettled and attempting to keep, you understand, our cool and level heads throughout the situation,” student Shannon Lake said.

Officials got word during a morning news briefing that the suspect, 22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., had been arrested.

“Just give me a moment to thank God, breathe a sigh of relief,” university Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said after learning Jones was in custody.

The violence erupted near a parking garage just after 10:15 p.m. Sunday as a charter bus stuffed with students returned to Charlottesville from seeing a play in Washington.

University President Jim Ryan said authorities didn’t have a “full understanding” of the motive or circumstances of the shooting.

“All the university community is grieving this morning,” a visibly strained Ryan said.

The killings happened at a time when the nation is on edge from a string of mass shootings throughout 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 greater than 30; and a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, Recent York, that killed 10 people and wounded three.

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 pc within the library when she got a call from her mom, who had received word in regards to the shooting.

Paul said she initially brushed off any concern, considering it was probably something minor. She realized she needed to take it seriously when her computer lit up with a warning about an lively shooter.

“I feel it said, ‘Run. Hide. Fight,’” she said.

Paul said she stayed huddled with several others within the library. She spent a lot of the night on the phone together with her mom.

“Not even talking to her the entire time necessarily, but she wanted the road to be on in order that if I needed something she was there,” she said.

Ryan identified the three slain students as Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.

Two students were wounded and hospitalized, Ryan said.

Mike Hollins, a running back on the football team, was in stable condition Monday, his mother, Brenda Hollins, told The Associated Press.

“Mike is a fighter — and he’s showing it,” she said after flying to Virginia from Louisiana. “We’ve great doctors who’ve been working with him. And most significantly, we have now God’s grace and God’s hands on him.”

The shooting touched off an intense manhunt that included a building-by-building search of the campus. The lockdown order was lifted late Monday morning.

Jones was taken into custody without incident in suburban Richmond, police said.

The arrest warrants for Jones charged him with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun within the commission of a felony, Longo 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 a part of the team for not less than a yr, Longo said. The UVA football website listed him as a team member throughout the 2018 season and said he didn’t play in any games.

Hours after Jones was arrested, first-year head football coach Tony Elliott sat alone outside the athletic constructing utilized by the team, at times together with his head in his hands. He said the victims “were all good kids.”

“These precious young men were called away too soon. We’re all fortunate to have them be a component of our lives. They touched us, inspired us and worked incredibly hard as representatives of our program, university and community,” he said in an announcement.

Jones got here to the eye of the university’s threat-assessment team this fall after an individual unaffiliated with the college reported a remark Jones apparently made about possessing a gun, Longo said.

No threat was reported at the side of the priority in regards to the weapon, but officials looked into it, following up with Jones’ roommate.

Longo also said Jones had been involved in a “hazing investigation of some sort.” He said he didn’t have all of the facts and circumstances of that case, though he said the probe was closed after witnesses didn’t cooperate.

As well as, officials learned a couple of prior incident outside Charlottesville involving a weapons violation, Longo said. That incident was not reported to the university because it must have been, he said.

Em Gunter, a second-year anthropology student, heard three gunshots after which three more while she was studying genetics in her dorm room.

She knew instantly there was an lively shooter outside and told others to go of their rooms, shut their blinds and switch off the lights. For the subsequent 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 lively shooter drills find out how to respond, she said.

“But how will we cope with it afterwards?” she asked. “What’s it going to be like in per week, in a month?”

Eva Surovell, the editor in chief of the scholar newspaper, The Cavalier Every day, noted that her generation grew up with “generalized gun violence.”

“But that doesn’t make it any easier when it’s your individual community,” she said.

Classes and other academic activities were canceled for Tuesday. An impromptu vigil drew a big 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.

Elsewhere, police in Moscow, Idaho, were investigating the deaths of 4 University of Idaho students found Sunday in a house near the campus. Authorities released few details, except to say that the deaths were labeled homicides.


Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Ben Finley in Norfolk, Va.; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Va.; Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Md.; John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio; Hank Kurz in Charlottesville, Va.; Holly Ramer in Concord, Recent Hampshire; and news researcher Rhonda Shafner; in addition to videojournalist Nathan Ellegren and photographer Steve Helber in Charlottesville.

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