Andrea Blanco and Johanna Chisholm
Tue, 15 November 2022 at 12:32 am
The chief of the University of Virginia Police learned during a press conference that the alleged gunman in the on-campus shooting had been captured.
UVA Police Chief Tim Longo was holding a live-streamed news briefing on Monday when he was informed by a captain that Christopher Darnell Jones, 22, had been taken into custody in connection to the shooting at the university’s main campus in Charlottesville on Sunday night.
“We just received information the suspect is in custody,” Mr Longo said at the presser. “Just giving a moment to thank God and breathe a sigh of relief.”
Mr Jones’ arrest just after 11am local time was announced after warnings to the public that he was considered “armed and dangerous.” The manhunt plunged the university’s residences into lockdown as students and staff were commanded by UVA Police and the school administration to shelter in place and seek safety if they weren’t inside already.
The suspect was found about 75 miles from the UVA campus around 11am on Monday. He was taken into custody by Henrico County Police in Richmond.
Officers first identified the suspected shooter in the massacre just after midnight on Monday, while sharing a headshot of the 22-year-old that appeared to be lifted from UVA’s athletics website, as he was a former football player for the school.
Mr Longo revealed that a UVA multidisciplinary threat assessment team launched an investigation after receiving reports that Mr Jones made comments about owning a gun to an individual unaffiliated with the university. Mr Longo said that Mr Jones had not made threats at the time, but simply mentioned he had a firearm.
“Because I want to be transparent with you, I want you to know … Mr Jones came to the attention of the University of Virginia’s threat assessment team in the fall of 2022,” Mr Longo said. “They received information that Mr Jones had made a comment about possessing a gun to a person that was unaffiliated with the university.”
It is unclear how the investigation unfolded, but Mr Longo said that the individual in question and Mr Jones’ roommate, who did not see the gun, were questioned.
Mr Longo also mentioned that Mr Jones had been investigated in connection to an alleged hazing incident but the inquiry fell apart after witnesses did not come forward with information.
The team learned that Mr Jones had violated protocol by not informing the university about a criminal incident in February 2021 in which he had been involved. The criminal investigation took place outside of Charlottesville and was in relation to a concealed weapon violation, NBC reported.
“He’s required as a student at the University of Virginia to report that and he never did, so the University has taken appropriate administrative charges through the University’s judiciary council and that matter is still pending adjudication,” Mr Longo said.
Mr Jones was a former football player for the UVA and is included on the university’s athletics website on the 2018 roster, though he didn’t appear in any games.
The website lists Mr Jones’ hometown as Petersburg, Virginia, where he played linebacker and running back at Petersburg High School. He “earned honorable mention all-conference honors as a senior” and spent three years of his high school education at Varina High School where he earned honourable mention all-conference as a freshman and second-team accolades as a sophomore and junior.
The website lists a number of Mr Jones’ accomplishments at high school, which include being a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society, serving as president of Key Club and Jobs for Virginia Grads Program and being named the Student of the Year as a freshman and sophomore at Varina.
Linebacker D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr, and Devin Chandler were the fatal victims in the shooting.
On Monday, Davis’s father Lavel Davis Sr wrote, “Lord please help me,” on Facebook, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Davis, who was 6’7” tall, ranked No 2 in the nation and No 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference for average yards per reception after the 2020 football season, the Associated Press reported.
Perry’s grieving father Sean Perry also confirmed his son’s death to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and said that he and the victim’s mother Happy were flying from their hometown of Miami to Virginia.
Perry, who was 6’3” tall and weighed 230 pounds, was a linebacker and defensive end for the Virginia Cavaliers football team – the same University of Virginia team that Mr Jones made the roster for back in 2018. The 22-year-old football star played just hours before his death, when his team took on Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Jack Hamilton, a professor at UVA, said on Twitter that both Chandler and Davis were in his class and remembered the students as “wonderful people.”
“[D]evin was new to UVA last spring (he was a transfer student) and I had him in a large lecture class. he nevertheless made a point to come to my office hours repeatedly, often just to ask questions about how things worked around uva,” Mr Hamilton tweeted about Chandler.
“Later I helped him declare his American studies major, which he was really excited about. he was an unbelievably nice person, always a huge smile, really gregarious and funny. one of those people who’s just impossible not to like. It is so sad and enraging that he is gone.”