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Sunday, December 4, 2022

3 dead, 2 injured in shooting at University of Virginia

The student suspected in a shooting at the University of Virginia that left three members of the football team dead and two others injured is in custody, officials announced Monday.

The University of Virginia Police Department identified as Christopher Darnell Jones as the suspect in the shooting.

In the middle of a press briefing at 11 a.m., UVA Chief of Police Timothy Longo announced he was taken into custody.

He said that the police department secured an arrest warrant charging him with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Students were issued warnings earlier to “RUN HIDE FIGHT” and shelter in place as authorities searched for the suspect, whom the University of Virginia Police Department identified as Christopher Darnell Jones.

Gunfire was initially reported at a parking garage on Culbreth Road, near the school’s drama building, around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, the University of Virginia Office of Emergency Management said in a tweet.

University President Jim Ryan said in a press conference Monday morning that the shooting unfolded on a school bus full of students returning from a field trip.

Ryan identified the victims as D’Sean Perry, a junior of Miami; Devin Chandler, a second-year student from Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Lavel Davis Jr, a third-year student from South Carolina. 

The identities of two injured victims hospitalized were not shared. One is in good condition and one is in critical condition, Ryan said.

Authorities said they were looking for Jones in connection with the deadly shooting. Ryan described the suspect as “one of our students” in his message.

Ryan said in an email to students: “I am heartbroken to report that the shooting has resulted in three fatalities.”

“This is a message any leader hopes never to have to send, and I am devastated that this violence has visited the University of Virginia,” he said. He said classes would be canceled for Monday, with only designated essential employees expected to report to work.

“Call 911 if seen, do not approach,” the University of Virginia Police Department warned in a tweet, sharing a photo of Jones.

The same photo appears on a profile for Jones in a 2018 football roster shared on the official website of the Virginia Cavaliers. The profile says he did not appear in any games that year.

He did not appear on the Cavalier’s roster in any following season.

The suspect was last seen wearing a burgundy jacket, blue jeans and red shoes, the university’s emergency management office said, adding that he could be driving a black SUV.

His mother, who is identified in public records as Margo Ellis, told NBC News in a phone call Monday that her son has lived with his grandmother since he was 16 and that she didn’t know of his whereabouts or what might have contributed to the shooting. 

Lavel Davis Jr, 20, was a wide-receiver on the Virginia Cavaliers’ current roster. 

Davis was set to graduate in December and was the beloved first child, and a “role model” to his younger brother and younger sister, his father, Thaddeus Lavel Davis, told NBC News. 

Thaddeus Davis said he’s “heartbroken.”

“I lost my baby. This is my firstborn child,” he said. He said Davis could “light up a room just with a smile” and that his son was focused on school, football and his family. 

Their family, from Charleston, South Carolina, is headed to the UVA campus Monday. 

Thaddeus said he learned the news of his son’s death Monday morning after receiving a call from his wife while he was at work, but didn’t know exactly what transpired in the shooting.

He said he last talked to his son Saturday and he wished he could’ve told him one last time, “I love you son.”

A search was conducted on and around the campus grounds early Monday, the university’s emergency management office said, involving multiple agencies, including a Virginia State Police helicopter.

The shelter in place order was lifted around 10:30 a.m. “a thorough search on and around” the campus grounds, but a large police presence remains on campus.

The office warned that the suspect was still considered “armed and dangerous,” as it repeated calls for residents to shelter in place as the manhunt took place.

Police are searching for a suspect, who remains at large.
A bus idles behind police tape during an active shooter situation at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday.Mike Kropf / The Daily Progress via AP

“We have all received several shelter in place texts, and they are frightening,” Robyn S. Hadley, vice president and the dean of students at the University of Virginia, said in an email sent out to students. “I am on Grounds like many of you; I am sheltering in place and in direct touch with University leadership and UPD.”

“Please, please take the shelter in place commands seriously as the situation remains active,” she wrote.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said early Monday it was assisting in the investigation.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement Monday that he and his wife are “praying for the UVA community.” 

“Virginia State Police is fully coordinating with UVA police department and local authorities. Please shelter in place while the authorities work to locate the suspect,” he said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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