3 football players slain in Virginia university shooting

Campus shut for hours; student suspect, 22, is former team member

- John Bacon, Charles Ventura, Jane Onyanga-Omara and Jorge L. Ortiz

CHARLOTTES­VILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia lifted a campuswide lockdown Monday hours after three students were killed and two injured in a shooting rampage on a charter bus that had returned from a field trip, authoritie­s said.

Killed were D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, all of whom played football at the school, university president Jim Ryan said.

“This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community,” Ryan said at a news briefing Monday, adding that authoritie­s did not have a “full understand­ing” of the circumstan­ces surroundin­g the shooting.

The shooting suspect is a former UVA football player, though he didn’t appear in any games. He was arrested just before 11 a.m. Monday in Henrico County, about 75 miles southeast of Charlottes­ville, Henrico Police said in a statement. Ryan said the 22-year-old suspect is enrolled at the 22,000-student school.

The shooting prompted a univer

sitywide shelter-in-place order that lasted about 12 hours. University Police Chief Timothy Longo received word that the suspect was in custody during the briefing.

“Just give me a moment to thank God, breathe a sigh of relief,” Longo said.

Details of the arrest of suspect Christophe­r Darnell Jones Jr. were not immediatel­y released.

Longo said a shooting was reported at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday on the northern edge of campus. The school immediatel­y sent an alert to students: “ACTIVE ATTACKER firearm reported in area of Culbreth Road. RUN HIDE FIGHT.”

Ryan said counseling and psychologi­cal services would be made available to students. Classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday, as was a UVA basketball game.

“This is a message any leader hopes never to have to send, and I am devastated that this violence has visited the University of Virginia,” Ryan wrote in an open letter shared on social media. “This is a traumatic incident for everyone in our community.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said agents were assisting in the investigat­ion. Gov. Glenn Youngkin said state police were coordinati­ng with local authoritie­s, and he and his wife were “praying for the UVA community.”

Rachel Mulvaney, 18, a first-year student, spent the lockdown in her dorm room. She said she first heard about the shooting when her mother called to make sure she was safe. A short time later she saw the school’s alert that a shooter was on campus.

“I was terrified; it honestly didn’t hit me this could be real at first,” she told USA TODAY in an email.

Students checked on one another to make sure friends and loved ones were safe, Mulvaney said.

“There is a heavy atmosphere of mourning,” Mulvaney said. “I’m praying for the victims’ families and the UVA football team. I’m worried about the mental health of students. How will we recover? What will moving forward look like? Confused and scared.”

Ellis Givens, a second-year student at UVA, lives across the street from campus, where traffic remained unusually light even after the lockdown was lifted. Givens lamented that crime seems to be increasing in Charlottes­ville.

“You definitely feel like you’re in a bubble while you’re on campus as a student here compared to Charlottes­ville as a whole,” Givens said. “And that bubble has been popped now that something happened here.”

Luke, 21, a fourth-year student who preferred that his last name be withheld for privacy reasons, was locked down at his girlfriend’s house with several other students “studying and just staying put.” They listened to the police scanner for updates from the scene, which was less than a mile away.

“People have been locked down in libraries all night. Everyone (is) definitely shaken up,” Luke told USA TODAY in an email.

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 6foot-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.

The names of the two people who were wounded had not been released.

A photo of Jones tweeted by UVA police appears on virginiasp­, where he was listed on the UVA football team roster in 2018. His profile says he was then a 5-foot-9, 195-pound first-year running back from Petersburg, Virginia, who did not appear in any games. It adds that he graduated from Petersburg High School after spending three years at Varina High School, where he was named Student of the Year as a freshman and sophomore, according to the profile.

Jones faces three counts of seconddegr­ee murder and three counts of using a handgun to commit a felony, Longo said. He said Jones had come to the attention of his department in September after someone reported that Jones made a comment about having a gun, but no one reported actually seeing a weapon.

Longo also said officials learned about a previous incident outside Charlottes­ville involving Jones and a weapons violation, but said it wasn’t reported to the university as it should have been.

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