Update: UVA shooter arrested, charged; details emerge about tragedy

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, D’Sean Perry (Photos: UVA Athletics)

Police have apprehended UVA shooting suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., and have charged him with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a hand gun in the commission of a felony after allegedly killing three Cavaliers football players and wounding two others late Sunday night.

University of Virginia Chief of Police Timothy Longo confirmed the arrest during a late-morning press conference, but declined to reveal where Jones was taken into custody. Longo said those charges could be amended.

Jones, a UVA student and a former walk-on for the 2018 football team, has been charged with the murder of Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler, who were all gunned down after returning from a field trip Sunday. All three were enrolled in a drama class and took in an event at the Kennedy Center. Two other football players, one a starter on the team’s offense, were shot. UVA president Jim Ryan reported during Monday’s press conference that one of the two wounded was fine and the other was in critical condition.

Longo said the bodies were discovered on a charter bus upon return from the field trip.

“Someone amongst them chose to do an act of violence and we found them dead inside that bus,” Longo said. “For hours we had to process a crime scene, and I know I don’t have to tell you how difficult it is for a family, to not know and see email chatter and social media.”

Longo said that Jones came to the attention of the University of Virginia’s threat assessment team in September, when the school’s office of student affairs reported that they received information that Jones had made a comment about possession of a gun to a person who was unaffiliated with UVA.

“To the best of our knowledge [the third party] never saw a gun,” Longo said. “The comment about Mr. Jones owning a gun was not made in conjunction with any threats. The office of student affairs followed up with the reporting person and made efforts to contact Mr. Jones.

“In fact, they followed up with Mr. Jones’ roommate, who did not report seeing the presence of a weapon. Mr. Jones also had come to the attention of our threat assessment team because he was involved in a hazing investigation of some sort. I don’t know the facts and circumstances of that investigation. I know that it was eventually closed due to witnesses that would not cooperate with the process.”

Longo said during the course of the investigation the assessment team learned of a prior criminal incident involving a concealed weapon violation outside the city of Charlottesville in February of 2021.

“What’s interesting about that case is he’s required as a student at the University of Virginia to report that, and he never did,” Longo said. “And so the university has taken appropriate administrative charges through the university’s judiciary council and that matter is still pending.”

Longo said he didn’t have complete details of the field trip to D.C., and couldn’t confirm if Jones was on the trip. He also said police have not learned how Jones fled the scene after the alleged shootings. Police found the bodies of Davis and Perry on the bus. Chandler was transported to UVA Medical Center and died there, according to Longo.

An emotional Ryan’s voice cracked as he addressed the tragedy.

“Let me say how deeply sorry I am for the victims and for their families and friends,” Ryan said. “I have spoken with four of the families, and I spoke directly to the student who is in good condition.

“Classes and all extracurricular activities have been canceled for today, including the men’s basketball game (vs. Northern Iowa) for this evening. My heart is broken for the victims and their families and for those who knew and loved them, and they are in my prayers. Please know we will do everything we can to honor their lives and we’ll come together as a community to mourn these losses.”