U-Va. shooter opened fire on a bus. His motive is unknown, police say.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Em Gunter, 19, was watching a biology lecture on a computer in her University of Virginia dorm Sunday night when she heard three loud bangs. She looked at her friend and said, “Was that shots?”

Then she heard three more shots. The friends were gripped by the terror that would soon sweep the campus of the prestigious university, forcing students to barricade their dorms, hide in closets and hole up in libraries.

Nearby, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a 22-year-old student and former college football player, allegedly opened fire on a bus full of students who had just returned from a field trip to see a play in DC , leaving three dead and two injured, authorities said.

At least four of the victims were U-Va. soccer players. University officers who rushed to the scene found the bodies of wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. and linebacker D’Sean Perry on the bus, authorities said. Wide receiver Devin Chandler was rushed to hospital, where he later died.

Family members said running back Michael Hollins Jr. was shot in the back but was alive. A fifth unidentified victim also survived and was taken to hospital.

Jones had fled the scene by the time police arrived, authorities said, prompting a massive search that lasted 12 hours as the campus was sheltered in place. He was taken into custody about 80 miles away in Henrico County around 11 a.m. Monday.

The motive for the shooting is still under investigation and the relationship between Jones and the victims is unclear. But Jones was on the radar of university officials, and the university had referred his case for disciplinary action at the time of the shooting.

Suspected shooter reviewed by school’s threat assessment team, officials say

Jones was a freshman on the football team in 2018 but did not appear in any games, according to a U-Va. sports venues. He previously played linebacker and running back at Petersburg High School in Virginia and overcame a difficult childhood in Richmond’s public housing complexes, according to a 2018 Richmond Times-Dispatch profile.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our community,” U-Va said. President James E. Ryan said at a press conference. “My heart is broken for the victims and their families.”

The incident began around 10.30pm on Sunday when officers were called to the scene near a car park on Culbreth Road.

Michael Hollins Sr., father of Michael Hollins Jr., said officials told him the suspected shooter carried a gun on the bus during the field trip and opened fire when they returned to campus . Timothy J. Longo Sr., the university’s police chief, said the students spent the day enjoying the trip and eating together.

Wool Hollins said he was working as a city bus inspector in Fairfax, Va., when just before midnight he received an urgent call that his son had been the victim of the shooting. The father jumped in his car and drove to Charlottesville, he said, arriving just before 2 a.m. Monday.

Her son had been shot in the back, the bullet lodged in his stomach. Hollins said her son was in “stable” condition and intubated, from Monday morning. He said his son, lying in the hospital bed, recognized his voice and shook his hand.

“Doctors said he was going to recover,” Hollins said. “They said that due to his age and physical condition, he was doing exceptionally well.”

Devin Chandler played on the University of Wisconsin Madison football team as a rookie, before transferring to U-Va. Alvis Whitted, a Wisconsin coach, remembered Chandler not only as an “outstanding” wide receiver, but also as an “all-around good guy.”

“All of our kids are devastated,” Whitted said. “He was so full of life, so full of energy. He always had a smile on his face. He was a great boy. He came from a very good family.

Thaddeus Davis, the father of 20-year-old Lavel Davis, said his son was a catcher for the football team.

“I wish it was me rather than him,” Thaddeus Davis said. “He’s my son. I say I wish I was up there in his place.

U-Va. Spokesman Brian Coy said in a statement that a student told school officials on September 15 that Jones made a comment about possessing a gun while administrators were investigating a possible issue. of hazing. During a university-led investigation, Coy said he learned he was convicted of a felony felony concealed weapons violation in Henrico County, Va., in 2021, which he failed to report to the university as required by school policy.

Jones repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials, and on October 27, the school’s threat assessment team escalated his case for disciplinary action. He was on standby at the time of filming.

A family member from Jones’ mother’s home said Jones had been bullied for months. “It was just bullying. He’s just fed up. There were too many bullies and no one was listening,” the person said. “He had nowhere to go, he had no one to talk to, so he finally gave up. And that’s life, right? Everyone has their breaking point.

Remembering the three football players who were killed at U-Va.

Longo said emergency alerts were sent to students immediately after the shooting, announcing an active shooter and the campus was locked down.

“The second we all got this message that there was an active shooter, my phone was inundated with messages,” said Eva Surovell, 21, of Alexandria, Va., editor of student newspaper Cavalier. daily, while the shelter- the order in place was still in effect.

Ozzie Alam, Oybek Askarov and Aaron Stackpole were huddled together at a friend’s apartment on Sunday night, half finishing their stats homework and half hanging out, when their phones went off.

It was the school’s emergency notification system telling them that shots had been fired nearby. At first, the 19-year-old sophomores thought it was another incident with a BB gun, which they said had been relatively common this year. But then they got a notification saying, “ACTIVE ATTACKER… RUN HIDE FIGHT.”

“We secured stealth weapons,” Stackpole said.

He grabbed a belt. Alam grabbed a painting of “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh. Friends were pushing sofas against the door like barricades.

A few minutes later, their phones turned on again. This time it was Yik Yak, an anonymous blogging app used by U-Va students. He said the shooter may have stopped near an apartment building – the same one they were in, three floors down. They looked out the window and saw flashing police lights.

The friends slept there that night, two on a couch and one on the floor. By the time they woke up, the suspect, who they later learned was a classmate, had still not been arrested.

Arlington’s Danielle Werchowsky, whose son is a student at U-Va., said Monday morning, “U-Va. parents are glued to our social media right now. … The parents are all nervous. She said she urged her son in a phone call to turn off the lights in his apartment and stay away from windows.

U-Va. classes and a basketball game scheduled for Monday were canceled as police searched the campus building by building. Schools in the city of Charlottesville and schools in the Albemarle County School District were also closed.

The campus was sorry early Monday. Nearby, a sign taped to the door of Bodo’s Bagels, a popular breakfast spot, reads: “Due to ongoing events at UVA, our location is closed until further notice.

The lockdown wasn’t lifted until around 10.30am, shortly before authorities announced Jones had been taken into custody. Jones faces three counts, each of second degree murder and commission of a felony with a firearm. He was being held in Henrico County, where he was arrested on Monday.

Virginia football coach Tony Elliott addressed the players during a team meeting at the football center shortly after the shelter-in-place order was lifted.

“I cannot find the words to express the devastation and grief our team feels today after the tragic events of last night which resulted in the deaths of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin, and the others injured,” said Elliott said in a statement. . “They were incredible young men with huge aspirations and hugely promising futures.”

The White House released a statement saying President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were in mourning with U-Va.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the countless families, friends and neighbors who mourn those killed as well as those injured in this senseless shooting,” the statement read.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (right) called the shooting a “horrible tragedy” during a tourism news conference on Monday morning.

“There were lives lost and families changed forever,” Youngkin said. “I’m just asking everyone this morning to lift up these families, the whole community in prayer.”

U-Va. officials canceled classes on Tuesday and said they were planning a university-wide vigil. Late Monday afternoon, members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had painted a banner and hung it on the roof of their home that read “VIRGINIA STRONG.”

Nicolas West, a 20-year-old sophomore, was returning from a final Frisbee tournament in Georgia when he heard the news of the shooting. Driving with his teammates, he and his friends realized that on any other Sunday night they would probably have practiced on the field right next to the parking lot where the shooting took place.

West and his team were supposed to return to campus Sunday night. Instead, they stopped at a relative’s house about 10 minutes away. The dozens of teammates crammed into a single living room, none having showered since their match.

The room was silent for hours, West said, with the only sounds coming from teammates who had news of the shooting. The second was supposed to be in statistics class on Monday morning. Instead, with classes canceled, West was on his way to find his girlfriend.

“I’m really, really shaken up,” West said, looking at the nearly empty street around him. “The campus doesn’t feel the same.”

Dana Hedgpeth, Martin Weil, Peter Hermann, Gene Wang, Katie Mettler, Salvador Rizzo, Olivia Diaz, Laura Vozzella, Alice Crites, Cate Brown, Jennifer Jenkins, Razzan Nakhlawi and Monika Mathur contributed to this report.

About Bernice D. Brewer

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