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Suspect in custody after mass shooting at UVA leaves 3 dead, 2 wounded

Photo by Chris Tyree, Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism at WHRO. Students from the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity hang a banner following a mass shooting at the University of Virginia on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.
Photo by Chris Tyree, Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism at WHRO. Students from the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity hang a banner following a mass shooting at the University of Virginia on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

CHARLOTTESVILLE - A University of Virginia student was charged with murder in the Sunday night shooting that left three university football players dead and wounded two other students. 

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was apprehended by Virginia State Police Monday, hours after the mass shooting put the campus on lockdown, stranding students and members of the university community across the grounds in libraries, campus buildings and dorms.  

The shootings took the lives of three members of the Cavalier football team: D’Sean Perry, a 4th year linebacker from Miami; Lavel Davis Jr., a 3rd year wide receiver from Dorchester, S.C., and Devin Chandler, a 2nd year wide receiver from Huntersville, N.C.

“This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community,” a somber university president Jim Ryan said at Monday morning press conference. 

As University of Virginia police chief Timothy Longo asked the community for help in finding Jones, a state police captain pulled him aside from the microphone. “We just received information that the suspect is in custody,” Longo said. 

Jones was taken into custody by Henrico County police around 11 a.m. Monday on the 5700 block of Edgelawn St., according to the department. Jones, originally from Petersburg, was arrested without incident. 

On Sunday, Jones was part of a field trip with about 25 students to see a play in Washington, D.C., Longo said. The charter bus returned to a campus parking garage. Around 10:15 p.m., shots rang out. 

Two men died at the scene, while a third was taken to a hospital and did not survive, according to university police. Two other victims remain hospitalized, one in critical condition and the other in good condition. The university did not release their names.

Jones fled from the scene.

“We don’t know how he got away,” Longo said, adding that more details will be revealed. 

Several Virginia law enforcement agencies set out on a manhunt that lasted 12 hours before Jones was caught. Jones has been charged with three counts of second degree murder and three weapons charges.

Jones’ behavior had raised concerns with the university and outside law enforcement, according to Longo. University officials investigated Jones for a hazing incident, although the case was dropped because of lack of witness cooperation, Longo said.

Jones was charged with concealed weapons violation in February 2022 in another jurisdiction. The charge is still pending, Longo said.

In September, a person alerted the university that Jones bragged about having a handgun, Longo said. The university investigated the claim and attempted to speak with Jones. His roommate told officers he had not seen a gun. 

Jones was the subject of a profile in the Richmond Times-Dispatch at his high school graduation, chronicling his difficult childhood and later scholastic and athletic success. Jones came to the university as a football recruit, but was no longer on the team.

The university canceled classes and sporting events Monday and Tuesday. Ryan said a memorial will be held. 

Community members needing counseling can reach the office of Counseling and Psychological Services, and faculty and staff can access aid through the employee assistance program.

The shooting is at least the third this year at a Virginia college. In February, a former student shot and killed two security officers at Bridgewater College. The same month, another shooter killed one and wounded four other people at a hookah bar in Blacksburg

The 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech took the lives of 32 people, including the shooter. It remains the deadliest college campus shooting in U.S. history.

On the University of Virginia grounds Monday afternoon, the shocked and subdued campus community slowly re-emerged from lockdown. 

Just a few hundred yards from the Beta Bridge, the site of the shooting, students huddled in groups around the front yards of sororities and fraternities. About a dozen Phi Kappa Psi members spread out sheets on their parking lot, and painted the names and numbers of the victims in navy blue and orange.

The fraternity house was a two-minute walk from the Sunday night violence.

Jason Olinger, a third year student from Maryland, was locked down in Phi Kappa Psi for nearly 12 hours. Students received a text around 10:15 p.m. reading: “RUN HIDE FIGHT.”

Olinger and his friends quickly locked the doors and moved upstairs, into a more secure section of the building. They barricaded a door with a dresser and table. “I knew it was real,” Olinger said, “but I didn’t know how severe.” 

Students and faculty received regular updates from the university, while rumors, eyewitness reports and accounts pinged quickly through texts and social media. 

Like most students, Olinger kept in regular touch with his parents, assuring them he was safe. He stayed up until 4 a.m., knowing the suspect had not been caught.

“You never really expect it to happen to you,” he said.

Brian Teweles, a second year student from Charlottesville, stayed locked down in his apartment for the night. He worried about friends who lived closer to the shooting.

He had two classes with Lavel Davis, including a summer class where they parked next to each other a few times. Davis was easy to spot – he’s listed as 6’7” on the team website – and always friendly and approachable, he said. 

“By all accounts,” Teweles said, “he was a great guy.”

Contact Louis Hansen at louis.hansen@vcij.org.

Louis Hansen is co-founder and senior editor of The Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism at WHRO. He’s been a journalist for more than 20 years in New York, Philadelphia, Hampton Roads and Silicon Valley. He was an enterprise and investigative reporter for The Virginian-Pilot for more than a decade, covering state government, military affairs and criminal justice. He served as a combat correspondent in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, covered the Virginia legislature and state and federal elections. Hansen has won national and state awards for his work. His profile of a teenage gang member, “The Girl Who Took Down the Gang,” was published in a collection of the ten best newspaper narratives of 2012.