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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A former University of Virginia football player suspected of killing three football players and wounding two other students on campus Sunday night is in custody after a chase in Charlottesville, Virginia, police confirmed Monday.
During a news conference Monday, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan said three Cavaliers football players were shot and killed: junior catcher Lavel Davis Jr.. from Dorchester, South Carolina; junior catcher Devin Chandler from Huntersville, North Carolina; and junior defensive end/linebacker D’Sean Perry of Miami
Authorities said the shooting suspect, identified as Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was taken into custody “without incident” just before 11 a.m. in Henrico County, Virginia. University of Virginia Police Chief Tim Longo said the 22-year-old Jones had been arrested and charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.
Jones was listed as a freshman running back on the team’s 2018 roster, and his roster bio stated that he previously played at Petersburg High School and Varina High School in Virginia.
Ryan said two other students were shot and hospitalized; he said one was in good condition and the other is in critical condition. Ryan did not identify the other students.
“The doctors said he’s going to be fine,” Hollins Sr. told the newspaper. “They said that because of his age and physical condition, she is doing exceptionally well.”
“Mike is a fighter, and he’s showing it,” Hollins’ mother, Brenda Hollins, told The Associated Press. “We have great doctors who have been working with him. And most importantly, we have the grace of God and the hands of God on him.”
A school official confirmed to ESPN that the fifth victim is a student who was in good condition as of Tuesday morning.
Ryan said the shooting took place on a charter bus after students were returning to campus from a field trip. He called the incident a “sad, shocking and tragic day for the university community.”
“Let me just say how sorry I am to the victims and their families and friends,” Ryan said.
In a statement, Virginia football coach Tony Elliott said his team is experiencing “devastation and heartbreak.”
“I cannot find words to express the devastation and pain our team is feeling today after the tragic events last night that resulted in the deaths of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin, and others who were injured,” Elliott said at the release. statement. “These were amazing young people with high aspirations and extremely bright futures. Our hearts ache for their families, their classmates and their friends. These precious young people were called too soon. We are all lucky to have them a part of our lives. We they touched, inspired us, and worked incredibly hard as representatives of our program, university, and community. Rest in peace, young men.”
Cavaliers Athletic Director Carla Williams also issued a statement and offered prayers for the families of the students.
“As a mother of three children, I grieve for the parents and family members,” Williams said. “We lost three talented and brilliant young men. We will never see what their impact on the world would have been, but we will never forget their impact on us. I miss Lavel, D’Sean and Devin. I pray for peace, comfort and hope for their parents and loved ones To your teammates, coaches and friends, I pray for strength and a peace that passes all understanding.”
Ryan said the students had traveled to Washington, DC on Sunday to attend a play as part of a class field trip. Longo said the students enjoyed a meal together and then “someone of them decided to commit an act of violence.”
About 13 minutes into Monday’s 20-minute news conference, Longo was interrupted by another law enforcement officer and told that Jones had been taken into custody. After announcing the arrest, Longo paused briefly.
“I just need a moment to thank God and breathe a sigh of relief,” Longo told reporters.
Jones’ father, Chris Jones Sr., told Richmond television station WTVR he was in disbelief after receiving a call from police Monday.
“My heart goes out to their families. I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry, on their behalf, and I apologize,” he said.
Longo said during the news conference that someone notified the university’s multidisciplinary threat assessment team in September that Jones had made a comment about having a weapon on campus. Longo said the person, who was not affiliated with the university, had never seen the weapon.
“The comment about Mr. Jones having a gun was not made in conjunction with any threats,” Longo said.
Longo said the office of student affairs contacted the person who reported Jones’ comments about the gun and tried to speak to Jones.
Jones’ roommate told the university that he had not seen a weapon, Longo said.
The university later learned that Jones had been charged with a misdemeanor concealed weapons charge outside Charlottesville in February 2021. He was asked to report the criminal charges to the university, but did not. Longo said the university had filed administrative charges through judicial council against Jones and the case was still pending.
“I thought it was important to share that information with you,” Longo said during the news conference. “To let you know it came to our attention and to answer any questions you may have about it. I want you to hear that from me and not hear it from someone else.”
Longo said Jones was also the subject of an investigation for hazing, but the case was closed because witnesses failed to cooperate with the proceeding.
Davis had 16 receptions for 371 yards and two touchdowns this season. As a freshman in 2020, he caught 20 passes for 515 yards and five TDs, averaging 25.8 yards per reception. He did not play during the 2021 season with a knee injury that required surgery.
“Sad, sad news this morning,” Newberry College assistant coach Sean Lampkin, Davis’ cousin, posted on Twitter Monday. “God took one of his kindest, most humble and loving soldiers from the battlefield last night. Please pray for my family as we are devastated by the passing of my cousin Lavel Davis Jr.”
Davis’ father, Lavel Davis Sr., said in a Facebook post: “Lord please help me.”
Perry had five tackles in three games this season, including two in Saturday’s loss to Pitt. He had an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown during his freshman season in 2020.
Chandler had not appeared in a game this season after transferring from Wisconsin. He caught two passes for 28 yards as a freshman and had a 59-yard kickoff return in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl for the Badgers in 2020.
“Once a badger, always a badger,” said Jim Leonhard, interim head coach at the University of Wisconsin. posted on Twitter on the Monday after Chandler’s death. “He had a lasting impact on his teammates, even after he left UW, which is a testament to the type of person he was. His personality was contagious and he was a joy to be around. Our team is grieving for him and his family “. .”
“While we do not yet have a full understanding of the motive and the circumstances surrounding these events, police are investigating as we speak,” Ryan said during a news conference on Monday.
“This is an unimaginably sad day for our community. The entire university community is in mourning this morning. My heart breaks for the victims and their families and all those who knew and loved them, and you are all in my prayers. As am I As I’ve said before, when I look at our students, I look at my own children, and I can’t imagine anything worse for a parent than losing a child.”
Thousands of Virginia students and community members gathered Monday night for a vigil on the south lawn of campus. After walking together to the center of the lawn and sitting down for a 15-minute moment of silence, a group of students that included Cavaliers football players walked to the front of the crowd. Everyone else stood up and pointed their candles and cell phones at the group, who were standing on the steps of Old Cabell Hall.
“Light in the dark. Thanks to our students for lighting the way” Ryan wrote in a tweet.
Light in darkness. Thank you to our students for lighting the way. pic.twitter.com/kNOPXz8Y88
—Jim Ryan (@presjimryan) November 15, 2022
Monday’s men’s basketball game between northern Iowa and Virginia was canceled, as were classes and other academic activities scheduled for Tuesday.
The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team showed their support for Virginia by wearing warm up shirts in honor of the victims of Sunday’s shooting.
Associated Press contributed to this report.