CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The suspect within the University of Virginia shooting that left three people dead and two wounded was a part of the category field trip that led to tragedy Sunday night, a university spokesman said Tuesday.
UVA’s Brian Coy said suspected gunman Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was a member of a bunch of about two dozen who traveled 120 miles by bus to look at a play in Washington, then returned to campus.
“Someone amongst them selected to do an act of violence” when the bus got back around 10:30 p.m., university Police Chief Timothy Longo said. Officers responding to a report of shots fired found the bodies on the bus, he said.
Police said Jones, a former player on the college’s football team, opened fire contained in the bus and killed three current team members while wounding two other students, a minimum of considered one of them also a football player.
Juniors D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler were identified because the victims. Running back Mike Hollins, also a third-year player, was considered one of two people wounded within the attack, his mother said.
Ryan Lynch, a second-year student on the trip, told Philadelphia TV station KYW the suspect pulled out a gun as they arrived back and pushed considered one of the now-deceased football players, saying, “You guys are all the time messing with me.”
“They simply kept coming, increasingly more gunshots – just wouldn’t stop,” Lynch said, adding the gunman then “just type of walked or skipped off the bus.”
The rampage prompted a 12-hour campus lockdown while police pursued the shooter. Jones was arrested Monday morning in Henrico County, Virginia, near Richmond. He faces three charges of second-degree murder and three charges of use of a firearm within the commission of a felony. Jones is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
Classes were canceled for a second straight day Tuesday on the campus community mourned the victims and grappled with the shock of the violence.
Jones, a freshman on the 2018 team who didn’t play in any games, faces arraignment on three counts of second-degree murder and related charges. No motive for the attack has been determined, authorities said.
‘COMMUNITY WILL COME TOGETHER’:Vigils, prayers within the wake of UVA shooting that left 3 dead
Wounded running back Mike Hollins undergoes second surgery
Virginia junior running back Mike Hollins is the fourth known victim within the shooting and was undergoing surgery Tuesday morning, in accordance with his mother, Brenda. She wrote on Twitter that her son was scheduled to undergo a second surgery at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday. She asked followers to proceed praying for him and “for the entire families which can be going through this horrific tragedy.”
“Mike is in surgery now!!! Please pray!” she wrote in a second tweet, adding the hashtags “#GODisgood” and her son’s jersey number, #7. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hollins appeared in 21 games during his first three years at UVA. He has rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns to date this yr.
– Tom Schad
WOUNDED UVA FOOTBALL PLAYER HAS SURGERY: Mike Hollins was considered one of two shooting victims who survived
Jones’s father, Christopher Darnell Jones Sr., says he’s still attempting to process the accusations against his son. Jones Sr. told NBC12 in Richmond, Va., that his son all the time excelled at every little thing he tried and had a “movie star smile.” But he said something was off when he and his son last spoke a few month ago. He said some people were picking on his son and the young Jones “didn’t know how one can handle it.” Jones Sr. told his son to disregard it and return to highschool.
“What happened? Why did it need to get this far?” his father said. “I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry on his behalf, and I apologize. He’s not a foul kid. He really isn’t.”
3 UVA FOOTBALL PLAYERS KILLED: Details emerge
Football team in shock over losing three ‘beautiful, young human beings’
His voice cracking at times, UVA head football coach Tony Elliott told reporters Tuesday the team is “still in shock’’ in regards to the Sunday night shooting rampage that left three Cavaliers players dead and one other one hospitalized and in need of two surgeries. One other person was wounded within the attack inside a bus at the top of a category field trip, nevertheless it’s not clear whether she or he was connected to the team.
Former UVA football player Chris Jones Jr., a freshman walk-on on the 2018 team who didn’t play in any games, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder.
“It looks like it’s a nightmare, to be honest with you, and I’m ready for someone to pinch me and wake me up and to say that this didn’t occur,’’ said Elliott, in his first season at Virginia after 11 years as an assistant coach at Clemson.
Elliott and Athletic Director Carla Williams didn’t provide much information in regards to the incident, including whether other players were on the trip, but she said Jones and the victims didn’t overlap on the team.
Elliott described the victim as “three beautiful, young human beings’’ and said wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. was a caring teammate who was keen about what he believed in, linebacker D’Sean Perry was cultured with an inventive bent and wide receiver Devin Chandler had a bubbly personality.
No decision has been made on whether to play Saturday’s game at Liberty.
“You prepare for the job,’’ Elliott said. “There’s no chapter on a situation like this.’’
‘THE COMMUNITY WILL COME TOGETHER’:Vigils, prayer within the wake of UVA shooting that left 3 dead
Service dogs provide welcome distraction for college kids
Dozens of UVA students and staff members took a respite from rain and sadness Tuesday to spend time with animals provided by Service dogs of Virginia, a nonprofit that places dogs with people battling issues starting from diabetes to autism to PTSD.
Among the many black and yellow Labradors was Champ, a sweet and unruly service dog in training. Champ, 6 months old, is already a “fixture on campus” and has helped students decompress during finals and midterms, his handler Amy Lowell said. Lowell said the abilities a dog needs to assist an individual with PTSD translate well to helping students during stressful situations.
“In times like these a dog may be very sensitive to what’s occurring and … is super helpful just by being fluffy and delicious,” she said.
Champ alternated between greeting students, chewing on cardboard signs that read “dog love no charge” and barking at his companions like Holly, an 8-month-old black Labrador. Holly’s handler, assistant professor of nursing Beth Quatrara, volunteers with the nonprofit and said the event was a way for members of the nursing school to support the community.
“Coping with the aftermath of the shooting is all about support and leaning on one another, reaching out to one another. And that is what’s gonna get us through,” said Quatrara, who has taught on the university for 25 years. “And Holly’s going to assist every step of the way in which.”
Students, faculty and community members gathered Monday night to recollect the dead and reflect on the tragedy. At fraternity and sorority houses steps away from the crime scene, students spray-painted “UVA Strong” and “Virginia Strong” banners, displaying the names and numbers of Perry, Davis and Chandler. Luke Stone, 21, a management and marketing major, said the messages were meant to offer encouragement to the emotionally shattered campus community.
“It has been a troublesome day for quite a lot of people,” Stone said, standing in front of a “Cville Strong” banner Monday afternoon. “Just a tragic, tough day for all of us.”
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY