CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CN) — After a manhunt that lasted over 12 hours, police have captured a suspect accused of shooting and killing three University of Virginia football players and injuring two other students.
“This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community,” Jim Ryan, president of the university, said in a press conference Monday morning.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a UVA student and former football player, is accused of opening fire on classmates on a charter bus that was returning from Washington D.C., from a field trip to see a play on Sunday night. The shooting happened near a university parking garage on Culbreth Road.
Police responded to calls at 10:16 p.m. Sunday. The university’s shelter-in-place orders lasted until late Monday morning while law enforcement swept the Charlottesville campus. UVA posted a tweet announcing that Jones was in custody at 11:19 a.m. Monday.
UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said at the press conference that Jones has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony. Longo was notified that Jones had been taken into custody during the press conference and did not have many details on the arrest other than he was apprehended off campus.
Jones, 22, was listed as a freshman running back for the 2018 UVA football season but he was not a member of the team the following season. He attended Varina High School in Henrico, Virginia, for freshman through junior year before attending Petersburg High School his senior year.
Longo said police do not know of any connection between Jones and the victims.
The university identified the three juniors killed in the shooting as defensive end and linebacker D’Sean Perry and wide receivers Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler.
“This is an unimaginably sad day for our community,” Ryan said. “The entire university community is grieving this morning. My heart is broken for the victims and their families.”
Longo described the scenes that officers responded to after initial calls for help.
“The bodies of Devin and D’Sean were found inside a charter bus where they had been for the day enjoying a school activity,” the police chief said. “Someone amongst them chose to do an act of violence.”
Davis died in transit to the hospital, according to Longo.
The two other students injured in the shooting have not been identified. Ryan said one of them is in critical condition while the other is in good condition. He said he has spoken with four families of the victims along with the student who is in stable condition.
Longo described the manhunt as an incredibly long evening in Monday morning’s press conference. He said over 500 students were forced to shelter in place in university buildings until the order was lifted at 10:33 a.m.
Jones had come to the attention of the UVA threat assessment team after he told someone not affiliated with the university in September that he had a gun, according to Longo.
The student affairs office followed up with Jones’ roommate, who said he had not seen the weapon. Jones had also been listed as a possible threat after he was involved in a hazing investigation, and was involved in a criminal incident involving a concealed weapon in February 2021. He was required to report the incident to the university but failed to do so, leading the university to summon its judiciary counsel. That case is still pending, according to Longo.
Until his arrest Monday morning, Jones was considered to be armed and dangerous. Police had given information about his appearance and vehicle to assist with the search.
All classes and extracurricular activities for Monday, including a men’s basketball game against Northern Iowa, have been canceled.
Longo said that along with university police, the city of Charlottesville police force, Albemarle County police, state troopers, and federal agencies including the FBI, the ATF and the U.S. Marshall service helped with the search.
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