UVA shooting: Suspect accused of killing three University of Virginia football players loses connection as new revelations emerge



CNN

The student accused of killing three University of Virginia football players after a school trip was denied bail at a court hearing in Charlottesville on Wednesday.

According to a witness, suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. shot one of the players, Devin Chandler, while he slept, the Albemarle County prosecutor said. Fellow UVA Cavaliers Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were also killed.

Wednesday’s hearing also found that Jones had been charged and convicted of reckless driving and hit and run in 2021 and had a concealed weapons charge in the same year. He received suspended sentences for all violations.

According to online records, Jones remains in custody at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Penitentiary. He was assigned a public defender until his next hearing in December — a status hearing that will discuss whether Jones has retained a private attorney, Albemarle County Commonwealth attorney James Hingeley said.

Jones was on a field trip with fellow UVA students on Sunday to see a play in Washington, D.C., a university spokesperson said.

As the bus returned to the Charlottesville campus, authorities said, the 22-year-old opened fire on the bus, killing Chandler, Davis and Perry.

Jones faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a gun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said.

He also faces two counts of intentional wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge. Two others were injured in the shooting, Hingeley said.

The prosecution identified the injured as Marlee Morgan and Michael Hollins.

One was in serious condition and the other has been released from hospital, UVA Health spokesman Eric Swensen said Tuesday. Swensen did not identify either person.

Hollins, a junior running back on the college football team, was intubated Tuesday morning but stable, his family said. CNN reached out to Marlee Morgan’s family.

UVA student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV that she was on the bus where the shooting took place and saw Jones push one of the victims.

“Chris got up and pushed Lavel,” Lynch said. “After he pushed him, he was like, ‘You always play with me.’ Said such a weird thing but it was very bizarre because they didn’t talk to him the whole trip.

Then the gunfire erupted.

“They just kept coming, more and more gunfire,” Lynch told KYW. “We thought he was going to shoot everyone on the bus.”

But “the shooter just walked or jumped off the bus,” Lynch said.

UVA’s scheduled game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday has been canceled, the university’s athletics department announced on Wednesday.

“The game would have been Virginia’s last home game of the 2022 season,” said a statement from the athletics department.

“A decision has not been made at this time whether Virginia will participate in the final game of the season, a date of November 26 (Saturday) against Virginia Tech at Blacksburg.”

Prior to Sunday’s shooting, Jones was the subject of a pending case with the university’s judicial board as Sunday’s shooting unfolded, officials said.

“On Sept. 15, as part of an investigation into a possible hazing issue, UVA Student Affairs learned from a student that Mr. Jones had made a comment to him about owning a gun,” said Brian Coy, the university’s spokesman.

That person “did not see Mr. Jones in possession of a gun,” and the “remark about possession of a gun was not made in conjunction with a threat,” Coy said.

“During their investigation, university officials spoke to Mr Jones’ roommate, who gave no indication of the presence of guns. During their investigation, University officials found that Mr Jones had previously been tried and convicted of a 2021 concealed weapons offense, for which he received a 12-month suspended prison sentence and a small fine.

Coy said during the investigation: “Mr. Jones repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials seeking additional information about the claims he had a firearm and his failure to publicly disclose his previous felony conviction.

“The Threat Assessment Team escalated its case for disciplinary action” on Oct. 27, Coy said.

The school’s judicial board took over the case and the results are pending, said Longo, the school’s chief of police.

Jones was also involved in a hazing investigation on campus that was closed because witnesses would not cooperate, Longo said.

Jones is listed on UVA’s athletics website as a football player in 2018 who did not participate in any game as a freshman. A UVA spokesperson told CNN Jones that he had a pre-existing injury that prevented him from playing on the football team in 2018.

Jones underwent medical treatment and rehabilitation during his time with the team and was only a member of the team for one season, the spokesman said.

“What I do know is that the young man was a student from 2018 and spent a semester with our football program,” Williams said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, UVA football head coach Tony Elliott spoke publicly for the first time since the shooting. He described the days after the attack as a nightmare.

“I’m ready for someone to pinch me and wake me up and say this didn’t happen,” Elliott said, adding Tuesday was “much better, we were able to transition from the pain to the finding a little joy in celebrating the lives of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin.”

The deaths of players Chandler, Davis Jr. and Perry left three huge holes in a team that felt more like family than anything, the coach said. He went on to describe them, calling Chandler “the life of the party,” Davis “the big guy on campus,” and Perry “the quiet guy everyone wanted to know about.”

From left to right: Devin Chandler, D'Sean Perry and Lavel Davis Jr.

Elliott praised the strength of his team and staff for coming together and handling the shooting. Elliott said the team has inspired him to keep moving forward. At the same time, he said the staff made it their mission to make sure the team had all the resources they needed and that no one was left isolated.

“The message to the team is that we’re going to celebrate their lives going forward and the impact they’ve made so far and the legacy they’re going to be a part of helping us move forward,” Elliott said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled UVA Health spokesperson Eric Swensen’s last name.

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