A torrent of grief has enveloped the University of Virginia, where classes are canceled for a second day after three football players were killed on campus and new details emerge about the fellow student accused of killing them.
A vigil Monday drew hundreds on the Charlottesville campus, with candles placed around the Statue of Homer along with signs reading “UVA Strong” and “1-15-41” – the uniform numbers of slain UVA football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.
Two other people were wounded, with one in critical and one in good condition, UVA spokesperson Brian Coy said Monday.
The victims had just returned from a school field trip late Sunday when they were gunned down on and near a school bus, officials have said. The suspect, an ex-UVA football player, was in custody by the next morning; it’s not clear if he was on the field trip.
The killings are among at least 68 shootings this year on US school grounds, including 15 on college campuses. The incident also is among some 600 US mass shootings this year in which at least four people were shot, excluding a gunman, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The UVA shooting prompted an hourslong manhunt – as students locked down in dorms, classrooms and libraries – before Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was arrested late Monday morning in Henrico County, about 80 miles east of Charlottesville.
Jones faces three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said.
Police have not disclosed a motive for the attack.
A wave of support – locally and nationwide – flowed into Charlottesville.
Even the women’s basketball team at rival Virginia Tech wore “#HokiesforHoos” shirts Monday.
Jones was the subject of a pending case with the university’s judicial council when Sunday’s shooting unfolded, officials said.
“On September 15, in the context of reviewing a potential hazing issue, UVA Student Affairs heard from a student that Mr. Jones made a comment to him about possessing a gun,” said Coy, the university spokesperson.
That person “did not see Mr. Jones in possession of a gun,” and the “comment about owning a gun was not made in conjunction with a threat,” Coy said.
“In the course of their investigation, University officials spoke with Mr. Jones’ roommate, who gave no indication of the presence of any weapons. In the course of their investigation, University officials discovered that Mr. Jones previously had been tried and convicted of a misdemeanor concealed weapons violation in 2021, for which he received a 12-month suspended sentence and a small fine.”