Tragedy struck down in Charlottesville Sunday night when a former University of Virginia football player shot and killed three current Cavalier football players and wounding two other while a chartered bus containing the victims returned home from a school field trip.
The victims gunned down include Junior receiver Lavel Davis Jr. of Dorchester, South Carolina; junior receiver Devin Chandler of Huntersville, North Carolina; and junior defensive end/linebacker D’Sean Perry of Miami.
The incident left police on a manhunt but the suspect, who has been identified as Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., has been taken into custody. Jones Jr. has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.
Jones was listed as a freshman running back on the team’s 2018 roster, and his roster bio noted that he previously played at Petersburg High School and Varina High School in Virginia.
Two other students (currently unidentified) were shot and were hospitalized; one of which was in good condition and one is in critical condition.
The shooting took place on a charter bus after students returned to campus from a field trip. He called the incident a “sad, shocking and tragic day for the university community.”
“Let me say how deeply sorry I am for the victims and for their family and friends,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the students had traveled to Washington, D.C., on Sunday to attend a play as part of a class field trip. Longo said the students enjoyed a meal together and then “someone amongst them chose to do an act of violence.”
About 13 minutes into the 20-minute news conference on Monday, Longo was interrupted by another law-enforcement official and told that Jones had been apprehended. After announcing the arrest, Longo paused briefly.
“I just need a moment to thank God and breathe a sigh of relief,” Longo told reporters.
The UVA Police Department had tweeted earlier Monday morning that it was looking for Jones regarding the shooting, which occurred in a parking garage on campus around 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday. The tweet included the same photograph of Jones that was used for his Virginia football bio online.
Ryan confirmed in a message to the community at 4 a.m. ET Monday that three people were killed and two others were injured. Ryan wrote that “one of our students, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is suspected to have committed the shooting.”
At 10:33 a.m. ET, a shelter-in-place order was lifted on the Virginia campus, after a “thorough search on and around” the campus, according to a tweet by the UVA Police Department.
Longo said during the news conference that the university’s multi-disciplinary threat assessment team in September was notified by someone that Jones had made a comment about having a gun on campus. Longo said the person, who was not affiliated with the university, had never seen the gun.
“The comment about Mr. Jones owning a gun was not made in conjunction with any threats,” Longo said.
Longo said the office of student affairs contacted the person who reported Jones’ comments about the gun and attempted to speak with Jones.
Jones’ roommate told the university that he had not seen a weapon, Longo said.
The university later learned that Jones had been charged with misdemeanor concealed weapons charges outside Charlottesville in February 2021. He was required to report the criminal charges to the university but failed to do so. Longo said the university had taken administrative charges through the judiciary council against Jones and the case was still pending.
“I thought it important to share that information with you,” Longo said during the news conference. “To let you know that he had been called to our attention and to answer any questions you might have about that. I want you to hear that from me and not hear it from someone else.”
Longo said Jones was also the subject of a hazing investigation, but the case was closed because witnesses would not cooperate with the process.
Davis had 16 catches for 371 yards and two touchdowns this season. As a freshman in 2020, he caught 20 passes for 515 yards and five TDs, averaging 25.8 yards per catch. He did not play during the 2021 season because of a knee injury that required surgery.
“Saddening, saddening news this morning,” Newberry College assistant coach Sean Lampkin, a cousin of Davis’, posted to Twitter on Monday. “God took one of his most kind, humble, loving soldiers off of the battlefield last night. Please pray for my family as we are devastated by the passing of my cousin Lavel Davis Jr.”
Said Davis’ father, Lavel Davis Sr., in a Facebook post: “Lord please help me.”
Perry had five tackles in three games this season, including two in Saturday’s loss to Pitt. He had an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown during his freshman season in 2020.
Chandler has not appeared in a game this season. He caught two passes for 28 yards as a freshman in 2020.
“Although we do not yet have a full understanding of the motive and circumstances surrounding these events, police are investigating as we speak,” Ryan said during Monday’s news conference.
“This is an unimaginably sad day for our community. 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. As I’ve said before, when I see our students, I see my own kids, and I cannot imagine anything worse for a parent than losing a child.”