CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia lifted a campus-wide lockdown on Monday hours after three students were killed and two injured in a shooting on a charter bus returning from a field trip, reported announced the authorities.
D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, all of whom played football at school, were killed, university president Jim Ryan said.
“This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community,” Ryan said at a Monday news conference, adding that authorities did not have a “full understanding” of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
The alleged shooter, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is a former UVA football player, although he has not appeared in any games. He was arrested shortly before 11 a.m. Monday in Henrico County, about 75 miles southeast of Charlottesville, Henrico police said in a statement. Ryan said Jones, 22, is a student at the school of 22,000 students.
The shooting sparked a university-wide shelter-in-place order that lasted about 12 hours. University Police Chief Timothy Longo learned that Jones was in custody during the briefing.
“Just give me a moment to thank God, breathe a sigh of relief,” Longo said.
Details of the arrest were not immediately released.
Longo said a shooting was reported around 10:30 p.m. Sunday on the north edge of campus. The school immediately sent an alert to students: “ACTIVE ATTACKER firearm reported in Culbreth Road area. RUN HIDE FIGHT.”
Ryan said counseling and psychology services would be made available to students. Classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday, as was a UVA basketball game.
“It’s a message every leader hopes they never have to send, and I’m devastated that this violence has made its way to the University of Virginia,” Ryan wrote in an open letter shared on social media. “This is a traumatic incident for everyone in our community.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said officers were assisting in the investigation. Gov. Glenn Youngkin said state police are coordinating with local authorities and that he and his wife, Suzanne, are “praying for the UVA community.”
Students huddled together, waiting for news
Rachel Mulvaney, 18, a freshman, had locked herself in her dorm. She said she first heard about the shooting when her mother called to make sure she was safe. Shortly after, she saw the school’s alert indicating that a shooter was on campus.
“I was terrified, honestly it didn’t hit me, it might be real at first,” she told USA TODAY in an email. “I struggled to understand and process.”
The students checked on each other to make sure their friends and loved ones were safe, Mulvaney said.
“There is a heavy atmosphere of mourning,” Mulvaney said. “I pray for the families of the victims and the UVA football team. I worry for the mental health of the students. How will we recover? What will the aftermath be like? Confused and scared.”
Ellis Givens, a sophomore at UVA, lives across the street from campus, where traffic remained exceptionally light even after the lockdown was lifted. Givens lamented that crime seems to be on the rise in Charlottesville.
“You really feel like you’re in a bubble while you’re on campus as a student here compared to Charlottesville as a whole,” Givens said. “And that bubble has burst now that something has happened here.”
Luke, 21, a fourth-year foreign affairs, biology and pre-med student, was locked up at his girlfriend’s house with several other students “who are studying and staying put”. They listened to the police scanner for updates from the scene, which was less than a mile away.
“People have been locked up in libraries all night. Everyone (is) definitely shaken up,” Luke, who preferred not to have his last name released for privacy reasons, told USA TODAY in a E-mail. “We are in deep prayer for the victims and for their families at this time.”
4 UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO STUDENTS FOUND DEAD:Suspected homicide
UVA shooting victims identified
All three victims were members of the University of Virginia football team. Perry was a 6 foot 3 Miami junior linebacker. Davis was a 6-foot-7 junior wide receiver from Dorchester, South Carolina. Chandler was a 6-foot junior wide receiver from Huntersville, North Carolina who transferred this season from the University of Wisconsin.
Wayne Taulapapa, a running back who played the last three seasons in Virginia before transferring to the University of Washington in the spring, was a teammate of all three victims and was on the 2018 team with Jones, although none played that year.
“I can’t put into words the physical and mental pain that comes with the loss of not only teammates, but also brothers,” Taulapapa tweeted. “You were never just football players, but rather examples of tall and honorable young men.”
Perry played in the Cavaliers’ loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday and had two tackles. He has made seven tackles this season. Recruitment analyst Larry Blustein said he was “devastated” by the news of Perry’s death.
“D’Sean was the ultimate student/athlete who never had an enemy,” Blustein wrote in a text. “While many schools failed to notice what he brought as an athlete, the University of Virginia understood what he was – on and off the playing field. … It’s a great loss.”
The names of the two injured people have not been released.
MIAMI NATIVE AMONG UVA SHOOTING VICTIMS:Virginia football player D’Sean Perry killed with two others in campus shooting
A photo of Jones tweeted by UVA Police appears on virginiasports.com, where he was on the UVA Football Team roster in 2018. His profile says he was then a 5-foot-9, 195-pound freshman running back from Petersburg, Va. , which did not appear in all games. He adds that he graduated from Petersburg High School after spending three years at Varina High School, where he was named freshman and sophomore student of the year, according to the profile.
Jones faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun to commit a felony, Longo said. He said Jones came to the attention of his department in September after someone reported that Jones made a comment about having a gun, but no one reported seeing a gun.
Longo also said officials learned of an earlier incident outside Charlottesville involving Jones and a weapons violation, but said it was not reported to the university as it should have been. .
Clara Grimmelbein, a first-year computer science student, said the past day had been “extremely terrifying”. She accused the university of failing to properly respond to signs that Jones might pose a danger to others, including the reported gun comment.
“When student affairs were informed, they just did the bare minimum instead of handling it as a real threat,” Grimmelbein, 18, said. “It breaks my heart to see the lives of three innocent young men stolen because the reports were not taken seriously.”
The university is located on 2,000 acres in Charlottesville, about 115 miles southwest of Washington and 70 miles west of the state capital, Richmond. The school was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, whose Monticello estate is a few miles from campus, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top public universities. The UVA men’s basketball team won the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Contributor: Jon Santucci, Palm Beach Post; Staunton Chief Information Officer Brad Zinn; The Associated Press
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