After an extensive manhunt that stretched into the night, police announced Monday that they had finally arrested a University of Virginia student suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in a mass shooting on campus principal of the Sunday evening school.
University President Jim Ryan issued a statement early Monday confirming that the suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., was “one of our students.”
Jones opened fire on a bus full of students returning to UVA from a field trip to see a game in the Washington, D.C., area, school officials said.
Jones is listed on the university’s athletics website as a 2018 football player who did not appear in any games, although it is unclear if he will remain a student at UVA. All three victims — Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler — were identified by Ryan as members of the school’s football team.
Jones’ mother, Margo Ellis, told The Daily Beast that she is “not talking to reporters right now” when reached by phone Monday.
UVA Police Chief Timothy J. Longo was informed in the middle of a press conference Monday morning that Jones had been nabbed. He added that authorities received information from someone at the university last fall that Jones possessed a gun. The Office of Student Affairs followed up with Jones and his roommate, who said he never saw a weapon.
During the course of the investigation, UVA police learned of a February 2021 concealed weapons violation that “occurred outside of the city of Charlottesville,” Longo said, adding that Jones was required by school rules to report the case to the UVA administration, but never did. . Administrative charges through the university’s judicial council are still pending, according to Longo.
“It was brought to our attention,” Longo said. “I wanted you to hear from me, not hear from someone else.”
Jones’ relatives he told NBC 12 on Monday that he had been burned while in UVA. He was known to the school from an alleged hazing incident, school officials said Monday, according to CBS reporter Olivia Rinaldi, who said witnesses at the time were “uncooperative.” A source who knows Jones, but asked not to be named, told The Daily Beast that he “was bullied” at UVA, “and it was bad.”
In a 2018 article about Jones, the Richmond Times-Dispatch painted a portrait of a difficult childhood characterized by “a fractured family, school fights and suspensions”. Jones told the outlet that his father leaving when Jones was just five years old was “one of the most traumatic things that happened to me.” The piece added that Jones attended an alternative school where he was able to avoid bullying, and that he had moved with his grandmother to Petersburg in 2016 after the relationship with his mother deteriorated. He also said that in the two years before he started at UVA, “the mentors helped him let go of his anger.”
Tracie Baines’ daughter attended Petersburg High School in the Richmond area with Jones, and the two knew him well, she said.
“This is so out of character, so very, very out of character,” Baines told The Daily Beast on Monday. “And when I say that, I don’t say it to belittle or to erase the tragedy that happened. But I know another Chris.”
A shocked Baines, through intermittent tears, said Jones had been a conscientious teenager who did well in school and worked to help out at home.
“I know a Chris who helped take care of his mother, who helped take care of his family,” Baines continued. “I know a Chris who got a scholarship to UVA, and it’s just a tragedy for everyone involved.”
However, she said she had not spoken to Jones since he arrived at UVA in 2018 and “doesn’t know what happened there.”
“It makes it more painful for me because my first cousin was killed Thursday in gun violence,” Baines said.
D’Sean Perry’s father first confirmed in Charlottesville Daily progress that his son was one of those killed. Perry, 22, was a linebacker who played for the Virginia Cavaliers college football team.
His father, Sean Perry, said D’Sean was shot on a parking lot in the Culbreth Garage on campus. He added that he and Sean’s mother, Happy Perry, will fly to Virginia from their hometown of Miami on Monday.
Lavel Davis Jr., a wide receiver, was identified as another victim by his cousin, Newbury College football assistant Sean Lampkin.
“Sad, sad news this morning,” Lampkin wrote in a tweet Monday. “God took one of his most kind, humble and loving soldiers off the battlefield last night. Please pray for my family as we are devastated by the death of my cousin Lavel Davis Jr. Love and I already miss you, baby.
The reason for the attack is not clear.
Shelter-in-place calls were sent out around 10:40 p.m. Sunday night after the attack, and multiple agencies searched for Jones, who police said was armed and dangerous.
UVA canceled classes Monday as the shelter-in-place order remained in effect, though the order was lifted around 10:30 a.m. “based on a thorough search of the surrounding area” of the campus. university, the The UVA Police Department said. Charlottesville City Schools also canceled classes for its 4,000 student body “to give police time to investigate as they search for the suspect in our community.”
On Monday, Virginia Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine shared messages of support for the victims’ families. “Thinking of everyone impacted by the tragic act of violence on UVA’s campus,” Warner wrote.
“Heartbroken to hear of another Virginia community devastated by gun violence,” Kaine tweeted. “Praying for the UVA community and monitoring the situation closely.” He added: “We must take more action to make our communities safer.”