UVA suspect had specific targets, witness says
10: 16 AM ET
Mark SchlabachESPN Senior Writer
- Senior college football writer
- Author of seven books on college football
- Graduate of the University of Georgia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., the suspected gunman in a shooting Sunday night that left three University of Virginia football players dead and another wounded, was aiming at people and not shooting a handgun randomly on a charter bus, according to a passenger on the bus.
A witness who was on the bus, which was returning from a class field trip to Washington, D.C., also told police that Jones shot and killed Cavaliers receiver Devin Chandler while he was sleeping.
Details from the witness statements were shared by James Hingeley, Commonwealth’s Attorney, with Albemarle District Court Judge Kenneth Andrew Sneathern during Jones’ initial court appearance on Wednesday.
“That information was from a witness,” Hingeley stated outside the courthouse.
Jones, who participated in the hearing via video from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, said little during the 20-minute hearing, other than that he wanted to hire his own attorney and was employed at the time of the shooting. Jones is currently being held without bail.
Sneathern scheduled a case status hearing for Dec. 8.
Hingeley told the judge that Jones had previously been convicted on a misdemeanor charge of having a concealed weapon in Chesterfield, Virginia, on June 10, 2021. He was fined $100 and given a 12-month suspended sentence. According to ESPN court records, a judge issued Jones a three year good behavior bond. The judge also ordered Jones to forfeit his firearm.
At the time of that arrest, Jones also had outstanding warrants on misdemeanor hit-and-run property damage and reckless driving charges in Petersburg, Virginia, from 2021. He was convicted on Oct. 28, 2021, and that judge also issued a 12-month suspended sentence on each of those charges.
Junior receiver Lavel Davis Jr. of Dorchester, South Carolina, and junior defensive end/linebacker D’Sean Perry of Miami also were killed in the shooting. Running back Mike Hollins of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is hospitalized after being shot in the back. Marlee Morgan, a student from Virginia, was also injured in the attack.
” We are all devastated and grieving by the events in our community,” Hingeley stated. “All of us in the community care about the victims’ families. We wish for the quick recovery of all those who are being treated at hospital or who were injured. We wish there could be comfort for the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy. “
Jones, 22, was transferred to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on Tuesday from a facility in Henrico County, Virginia, where he had been arrested without incident the day before. He faces three felony charges, including second-degree murder and firearm usage in the commission of another felony. There are also two counts of malicious wounding as well as additional gun-related charges related shooting Hollins or Morgan.
Hollins has confirmed that he was hurt in the shooting. Gordon McKernan, a spokesperson for the Hollins, said Wednesday that Hollins underwent emergency surgery Sunday night to remove a bullet stuck in his stomach. According to McKernan, doctors performed another surgery to check for internal injuries. They were encouraged by the results.
McKernan stated that doctors removed Hollins’ ventilator from the patient after the second surgery.
According to UVA Health, one patient was discharged from the medical center Tuesday and the other patient remains in serious condition. The violence at the state’s flagship university has prompted days of mourning among students, faculty, the wider Charlottesville community, and other supporters. Classes resumed Wednesday, although the school announced it was canceling its final home football game of the season, a game against Coastal Carolina scheduled for Saturday.
No decision has been made yet about whether UVA will participate in its final game of the season on Nov. 26 against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the university said in a news release.
University president Jim Ryan said Monday that authorities did not have a “full understanding” of the motive behind the shooting. Jones was a member of the football team during the 2018 season, a one-semester walk-on, according to athletic director Carla Williams.
ESPN’s Paula Lavigne and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.