A student suspected of a shooting at the University of Virginia that killed three members of the football team and injured two others is in custody, officials announced Monday.
Timothy Longo, police chief of the University of Virginia, said authorities have obtained an arrest warrant identifying Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. is charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a gun in the alleged commission of a felony following the death of D’Sean Perry. Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr.
The identities of the two injured victims who have been hospitalized were not shared at a press conference. One is in good condition and the other is in critical condition, UVA president Jim Ryan said.
Jones, 22, was taken into custody just before 11 a.m. by Henrico County Police in Richmond, Virginia, “without incident,” about 75 miles southeast of the UVA campus. the department said.
He was a former member of the school’s football team. He was listed on the 2018 roster shared on the Virginia Cavaliers official websitebut did not appear on the roster in any of the following seasons.
The shooting unfolded on the school bus returning from seeing a play
Gunfire was initially reported in a car park on Culbreth Road, near the school’s drama building, around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, the UVA Office of Emergency Management said in a tweet.
Ryan said in a press conference Monday morning that the shooting happened on a school bus full of students returning from a field trip. The trip was to see a play in Washington, DC, and was associated with a class, officials said.
Ryan identified the victims as Perry, a fourth-year student from Miami; Chandler, a sophomore from Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Davis, a third-year student from South Carolina.
A manhunt was launched for the suspect and students were previously given warnings to “RUN HIDE FIGHT” and shelter in place. A search was conducted on and around campus grounds on Monday, the university’s emergency management office said, involving multiple agencies, including a Virginia State Police helicopter.
The shelter is fine was cancelled around 10.30 am after “a thorough search on and around” the site.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said early Monday that it was assisting with the investigation.
“This is a message every leader hopes never to send, and I am devastated that this violence has visited the University of Virginia,” Ryan said in an email to students. He said classes would be canceled for Monday, and only designated essential workers are expected to show up for work.
The suspect was once on the football team, was told at school that he had a gun
During the search, UVA police warned people not to approach the suspect, who was considered “armed and dangerous” and shared a Jones’s photo.
The same photo is on one profile for Jones on the 2018 Virginia Cavaliers football roster. The profile says he did not appear in any games that year.
His mother, who is identified on public records as Margo Ellis, told NBC News in a phone call Monday that her son has lived with his grandmother since he was 16 and she didn’t know where he was or what might have contributed to the shooting.
Officials explained on Monday that Jones had landed on the radar of school authorities in recent years.
Longo said Monday that the UVA student affairs office received information in September that Jones had made a comment about the possession of a gun against a person not connected to the university. The office reported this to a multidisciplinary threat assessment team affiliated with UVA.
Longo said the comment about Jones possessing a gun was made “not in conjunction with threats.”
The office contacted the person who reported the problem and Jones’ roommate who did not report seeing the gun. It is not clear how the matter was resolved.
The threat assessment team also investigated Jones in connection with a hazing investigation, a case that was eventually closed because witnesses refused to cooperate with the trial, Longo said. It is not clear when the alleged hazing incident took place.
Longo said the team’s investigation also led them to learn of a criminal incident involving Jones in February 2021 involving a concealed weapons violation outside of Charlottesville. Jones did not report the incident to the school as per protocol.
“The university has filed appropriate administrative charges with the university judiciary, and that case is still awaiting trial,” Longo said.
The Victims: Virginia Cavaliers football players
Davis, 20, was one wide receiver on the current Virginia Cavaliers roster.
He was due to graduate in December and was a beloved first child and a “role model” to his younger brother and sister, his father, Thaddeus Lavel Davis, told NBC News.
The father said he was “heartbroken”.
“I lost my baby. This is my firstborn child,” he said, adding that his son, who could “light up a room with a smile,” was focused on school, football and his family.
Their family, from Charleston, South Carolina, was on their way to the UVA campus on Monday.
The grieving father said he learned the news of his son’s death Monday morning after receiving a call from his wife while he was at work, but was unsure exactly what happened during the shooting.
He said he had last spoken to his son on Saturday and he wished he could have told him one last time, “I love you, son.”
An attorney for Happy and Sean Perry, D’Sean Perry’s parents, issued a statement thanking the communities of South Florida and Charlottesville for “the outpouring of support at this impossibly tragic time.”
“At this time, Happy and Sean will not speak publicly about the incident as their grief is just beginning, and out of respect for the University of Virginia community, which has been terrorized by another mass shooting across the United States.” said attorney Michael Haggard.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a statement Monday that he and his wife are “praying for the UVA community.”
“Virginia State Police is fully coordinating with the UVA Police Department and local authorities,” he said.
The White House also issued a statement about the shooting on Monday.
“The President and First Lady mourn with the community of the University of Virginia after another deadly shooting in America left three young people dead. Our deepest condolences go out to the countless families, friends and neighbors who are mourning both the dead and those injured in this senseless shooting,” the statement said.