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 the main campus from school on Sunday night.
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 play 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 a game, although it is unclear if he is still a student at UVA. The 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 told midway through a news conference Monday morning that Jones had been arrested. He added that authorities had received a tip from someone at the university last fall that Jones had 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 concealed weapons violation in February 2021 that “occurred outside of the city of Charlottesville,” Longo said, adding that the rules of the school required Jones to report the case to the UVA administration, but he never did. . Administrative charges through the university’s judicial council are still pending, according to Longo.
“It caught his eye,” Longo said. “I wanted you to hear it from me, not someone else.”
Jones’ relatives he told NBC 12 Monday that he had been tainted while at UVA. The school was known for an alleged hazing incident, school officials said Monday. according to CBS reporter Olivia Rinaldi, who said witnesses at the time would be “uncooperative.” A source who knows Jones but asked not to be named told The Daily Beast that he had been “bullied” at UVA, “and it was bad.”
In a 2018 article on Jones, the Richmond Times-Dispatch painted the picture 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 had moved in with his grandmother in Petersburg in 2016 after the relationship with his mother soured. 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 both knew him well, she said.
“This is very out of character, very, very out of character,” Baines told The Daily Beast on Monday. “And when I say that, I don’t say it to degrade or erase the tragedy that happened. But I know a different Chris.”
A shaken Baines, through intermittent tears, said Jones had been a conscientious teenager who did well at 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, he said he has not spoken to Jones since he arrived at UVA in 2018 and has “no knowledge of what happened there.”
“It hurts me more because my first cousin was killed in gun violence on Thursday,” Baines said.
D’Sean Perry’s father first confirmed Charlottesville’s Daily progress that his son was one of the murdered. Perry, 22, was a linebacker who played for the Virginia Cavaliers college football team.
His father, Sean Perry, said D’Sean was shot in a parking deck at the Culbreth Garage on campus. He added that he and Sean’s mother, Happy Perry, were flying 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 assistant football coach Sean Lampkin.
“Sad, sad news this morning,” Lampkin wrote to one 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. I love and already I miss you, kid.”
The motive for the attack is still unclear.
Shelter-in-place texts were sent around 10:40 p.m. Sunday night following the attack, and several agencies had been searching 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 university grounds, the The UVA Police Department said. Charlottesville City Schools also canceled classes for its 4,000 students “in order 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 families of the victims. “Thinking of all those affected by the tragic act of violence on the UVA 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 need to take more action to make our communities safer.”