A University of Virginia student is suspected of killing three of the school’s football players in a shooting Sunday night, the school’s president said Monday. The suspect, identified by authorities as student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was in custody, authorities announced Monday.
All three victims were members of the University of Virginia football team. Perry was a 6-foot-3 junior linebacker from Miami. Davis was a 6-foot-7 junior wide receiver from Dorchester, South Carolina. Chandler was a 6-foot junior wide receiver from Huntersville, North Carolina, who transferred this season from the University of Wisconsin. Two other students, one in critical condition and one in good condition, were wounded in the shooting and were receiving treatment.
“This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community,” Ryan told reporters. “… The entire university community is grieving this morning. My heart is broken for the victims and their families and for all those who knew and loved them, and they are all in my prayers.”
Chandler was a second-year student, Davis was a third-year student and Perry was a fourth-year student, Ryan said.
The shooting happened late Sunday night near a campus parking garage on a bus “full of students” returning from a play in Washington, D.C., Ryan said. Police responded to a call of shots fired at approximately 10:30 p.m., Ryan said.
Tim Longo, the university’s police chief, received word of the suspect’s apprehension during the press conference. “Just need a moment to thank God, breathe a sigh of relief,” the chief said.
The 22-year-old suspect was taken into custody without incident shortly before 11 a.m. southeast of Charlottesville in Henrico County, Virginia, the county’s police agency said. No additional details were immediately released.
The suspect was once on the football team
During the search, university police shared a photo of Jones and warned people not to approach him, saying he was considered “armed and dangerous.”
The same photo appears on a profile for Jones on the Virginia Cavaliers’ 2018 football roster. The profile says he did not appear in any games that year.
His mother, who is identified in public records as Margo Ellis, said in a phone call Monday that her son has lived with his grandmother since he was 16 and that she did not know his whereabouts or what might have contributed to the shooting.
Officials said Monday that Jones had landed on the radar of school authorities in previous years.
Longo said Monday that in September, the Office of Student Affairs received information that Jones had made a comment about possessing a gun to a person unaffiliated with the university. The office flagged that to a multidisciplinary threat assessment team affiliated with the university.
Longo said the comment about Jones’ owning a gun was “not made in conjunction with any threats.”
The office followed up with the person who flagged the concern and with Jones’ roommate, who did not report having seen the weapon. It is not clear how the matter was resolved.
The threat assessment team also looked into Jones in relation with a hazing investigation, a case that was eventually closed because witnesses would not cooperate with the process, Longo said. It is not clear when the hazing incident is alleged to have occurred.
Longo said the team’s investigation also led it to learn about a criminal incident in connection with Jones in February 2021 involving a concealed weapon violation outside Charlottesville. Jones did not report the incident to the school in accordance with protocol.
“The university has taken appropriate administrative charges through the university’s judiciary council, and that matter is still pending adjudication,” Longo said.
The Biden administration calls for tighter gun control
Tributes to Chandler, Davis and Perry poured in on social media on Monday. UVA football players and coaches described shock, outrage and heartbreak while sharing images and stories of the men.
Jack Hamilton, a UVA professor who said Chandler and Davis were both students of his, described the former as “an unbelievably nice person, always a huge smile, really gregarious and funny. One of those people who’s just impossible not to like.”
Davis went out of his way to make friends with non-athletes and was well-liked by many of his fellow students, Hamilton wrote.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement offering President Biden’s “deepest condolences” to the “countless families, friends and neighbors grieving for those killed as well as those injured in this senseless shooting.”
“We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off of America’s streets,” Pierre wrote in reference to a bill that passed in the House of Representatives this July but doesn’t appear to stand a chance of overcoming a filibuster in the Senate.
UVA officials had not yet released information on the type of weapon used in Sunday’s shooting.
UVA is at least the second university to report student deaths this weekend
On Sunday, police in Moscow, Idaho, said that four University of Idaho students were found dead in a home near the campus. Police investigating the incident have called the deaths suspected homicides.
“The Moscow Police Department gives our heartfelt condolences to family members, friends and the Moscow community,” police said in a statement.
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