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Charlottesville, Virginia — 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.
The deceased victims were identified as Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry, UVA President Jim Ryan said during a press conference. 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.
Before announcing the arrest, Longo said the suspect was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.
The suspect was involved in a criminal incident involving a concealed weapon violation outside Charlottesville in February 2021, Longo said. The chief didn’t provide additional details other than the suspect was required to report the violation to university officials but he didn’t.
In September, the university’s threat assessment team received a report of the suspect telling someone that he had a gun, Longo said. University officials tried to contact the suspect and spoke with the suspect’s roommate, who didn’t report seeing a gun, Longo said.
Police released the photo of Jones below, from the university’s athletics website, where he was listed as a member of the UVA football team in 2018, when he was a freshman.
The police chief said he didn’t know to what extent the victims knew the suspect. The suspect hadn’t been on the football team for over a year, Ryan said.
Hours after the arrest, first-year head football coach Tony Elliott sat alone outside the athletic building used by the team, at times with his head in his hands. He said the victims “were all good kids” and that he would talk more about them “when the time is right.”
Chandler previously attended the University of Wisconsin. In a statement, Wisconsin’s interim head coach Jim Leonhard said Chandler “had a lasting impact on his teammates, even after he left UW, which is a testament to the type of person he was. His personality was infectious and he was a joy to be around. Our team is hurting for him and his family.”
The suspect’s father, Chris Jones Sr., told CBS affiliate WTVR-TV that his heart went out to the families of the victims.
“I don’t know what to say, except I’m sorry on his behalf, and I apologize,” Jones said, adding that he “couldn’t believe it was (his) son.”
Students and staff were warned to shelter in place late Sunday night after the shooting. The university’s emergency management issued an alert on Twitter at 10:42 p.m. of an “active attacker firearm.” Late Monday morning, the shelter-in-place order was lifted after a “thorough search” on and around the campus, police said.
“There has been a shooting on Culbreth Road and the suspect is at large and considered armed and dangerous,” Ryan said in a tweet.
Ryan later sent out a letter with a message to the university community, saying he was “heartbroken to report that the shooting has resulted in three fatalities,” with two others being hospitalized and treated for unspecified wounds.
The UVA Police Department also posted a notice online saying multiple police agencies were searching for a suspect who was considered “armed and dangerous.”
Ryan said in his Monday morning letter that only designated essential staff should come to work.
A UVA student who was in her dormitory room near Culbreth Road said she heard six shots fired, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Virginia’s elected leaders reacted to the shooting on social media.
“This morning, Suzanne and I are praying for the UVA community,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said on Twitter, referring to his wife, Suzanne Youngkin.
“Heartbroken to hear of another Virginia community devastated by gun violence,” Sen. Tim Kaine said in a tweet. “Praying for the UVA community and closely monitoring the situation.”