Threat Management Team Was Investigating Alleged UVA Shooter
The suspect arrested Monday and charged with murdering three of his University of Virginia (UVA) classmates and wounding two others, had been under investigation from the university’s threat management team.
The suspected gunman, Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., had been on a school trip to Washington, D.C., to watch a play Sunday evening. When the trip bus returned to campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, Jones allegedly began shooting. CNN interviewed students who said they heard shots coming from a bus that was moving slowly before it stopped and people began to run from the bus. The accounts indicate the shooter was on the bus.
Devin Chandler; Lavel Davis, Jr.; and D'Sean Perry, all UVA students and football team members, were killed in the shooting. A fourth student and football team member, Mike Hollins, was injured in the shooting, as well as a fifth student whose name has not been disclosed.
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Authorities said Jones fled the scene, prompting the university to issue a shelter-in-place lockdown alert. The lockdown stayed in place for 12 hours until Jones was apprehended approximately 80 miles away. According to The Daily Progress—a Charlottesville-area newspaper—many students spent the night in the library or academic buildings, while others barricaded themselves in their rooms.
Jones is a UVA student and was a member of the football team in 2018, but did not play and was not listed on the roster in subsequent years.
Light in darkness. Thanks to our students for lighting the way. pic.twitter.com/kNOPXz8Y88— Jim Ryan (@presjimryan) November 15, 2022
While investigating a potential hazing incident in September 2022, a student informed school staff that Jones said he possessed a gun. Neither the student making the report nor Jones’s roommate saw Jones in possession of a firearm, and they did not witness Jones making any threats. Jones refused to answer any questions posed by investigators, however.
Authorities dropped the hazing investigation when they could not obtain corroboration from any witnesses. No details of the hazing allegation or of Jones’s potential role in it have been disclosed publicly. In following up on the information about Jones, though, officials discovered Jones was convicted on a concealed weapon misdemeanor charge in 2021—a conviction he was obligated to report to the school and did not.
“’Throughout the investigation, Mr. Jones repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials who were seeking additional information about the claims that he had a firearm and about his failure to disclose the previous misdemeanor conviction,’ officials said," in The Washington Post account. "As a result, the school’s threat assessment team ‘escalated his case for disciplinary action’ on 27 October—a little more than two weeks before the shooting.”
The Post also reported on an interview with a man who said he was Jones’s 19-year-old brother, who said the shooting was a result of bullying.
“He just got fed up. … Nobody was listening,” the Post quoted the brother as saying. “He had nowhere to go, he had nobody to talk to, so he finally gave up. And that’s life, right? Everybody’s got their breaking point.”
UVA students held an informal vigil on campus Monday evening, and University President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom announced that Tuesday would be a Day of Remembrance for the university with an open hall for students and additional counseling services available, according to UVA student newspaper The Cavalier Daily.
Elsewhere in School Security...
Along with the investigation into the shooting at UVA, there have also been some important school security stories that broke at the beginning of this week.
- On Monday, investigators announced they were looking into the deaths of four University of Idaho students discovered inside a house near campus. Many details are unknown, but the university confirmed the victims' identities: Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves. Police said there is no active threat to the campus community, but did disclose that they are investigating the deaths as homicides with no suspect identified or in custody. A coroner told The New York Times that it did not appear to be a case of murder-suicide and that all four were victims.
- The FBI announced yesterday that it suspects hundreds of false reports of shooters and bomb threats at colleges and primary schools across the United States since June originated from overseas. The threats are not related to the dozens of threats made against historically Black colleges early in 2022, according to the Associated Press.
- In Michigan, prosecutors announced that they will seek a life sentence with no chance for parole for a 16-year-old who pled guilty to murder and terrorism charges for killing four of his classmates.