Suspect accused of killing 3 University of Virginia football players is denied bond as new revelations emerge | CNN
The student accused of killing three University of Virginia football players after a school field trip was denied bond Wednesday during a court hearing in Charlottesville.
According to a witness, suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. shot one of the players, Devin Chandler, while he was sleeping, the Albemarle County prosecutor said. Fellow UVA Cavaliers Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were also killed.
Wednesday’s hearing also revealed that Jones was charged and convicted of a reckless driving and hit and run in 2021 and had a concealed weapons charge the same year. He received suspended sentences for all of the offenses.
Jones remains in custody in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, according to online records. He was assigned a public defender until his next hearing in December – a status hearing that will discuss whether Jones has retained private counsel, Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley said.
Jones was on a field trip Sunday with fellow UVA students to see a play in Washington, DC, a university spokesperson said.
When the bus returned to the Charlottesville campus, authorities said, the 22-year-old opened fire on the bus, killing Chandler, Davis and Perry.
Jones faces three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said.
He also faces two counts of malicious wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge. Two others were injured in the shooting, Hingeley said.
The prosecutor identified the injured as Marlee Morgan and Michael Hollins.
One was in serious condition, and the other has been discharged from the hospital, UVA Health spokesperson Eric Swensen said Tuesday. Swensen did not identify either person.
Hollins, a junior running back on the university’s football team, was intubated but stable Tuesday morning, his family said. CNN reached out to the family of Marlee Morgan.
UVA student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV she was on the bus where the shooting took place and saw Jones push one of the victims.
“Chris got up and pushed Lavel,” Lynch said. “After he pushed him, he was like ‘You guys are always messing with me.’ Said something weird like that, but it was very bizarre because they didn’t talk to him the whole trip.”
Then gunfire erupted.
“They just kept coming, more and more gunshots,” Lynch told KYW. “We thought he was going to shoot everyone on the bus.”
But “the shooter just kind of walked or, like, skipped off the bus,” Lynch said.
The Cavaliers are scheduled to play Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
UVA Athletics Director Carla Williams said the athletics department – along with the football team and staff – will decide whether to play.
“We’ll use our best judgment,” she said late Tuesday. “We’ll make a decision soon.”
UVA’s scheduled game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday has been canceled, the university’s athletics department announced Wednesday.
“The game would have been Virginia’s final home game of the 2022 season,” a statement from the athletics department said.
“A decision if Virginia will participate in its final game of the season, a Nov. 26 (Saturday) date against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, has not been made at this time.”
Prior to Sunday’s shooting, Jones was the subject of a pending case with the university’s judicial council as Sunday’s shooting unfolded, officials said.
“On September 15, in the context of reviewing a potential hazing issue, UVA Student Affairs heard from a student that Mr. Jones made a comment to him about possessing a gun,” said Brian Coy, the university spokesperson.
That person “did not see Mr. Jones in possession of a gun,” and the “comment about owning a gun was not made in conjunction with a threat,” Coy said.
“In the course of their investigation, University officials spoke with Mr. Jones’ roommate, who gave no indication of the presence of any weapons. In the course of their investigation, University officials discovered that Mr. Jones previously had been tried and convicted of a misdemeanor concealed weapons violation in 2021, for which he received a 12-month suspended sentence and a small fine.”
Coy said 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.”
“The Threat Assessment Team escalated his case for disciplinary action” on October 27, Coy said.
The school’s judicial council took over the case, and the results are pending, Longo, the school’s police chief, said.
Jones was also involved in a hazing investigation on campus that was closed because witnesses would not cooperate, Longo said.
Jones is listed on UVA’s athletics website as a football player in 2018 who, as a freshman, did not participate in any games. A UVA spokesperson told CNN Jones had a pre-existing injury that prevented him from playing on the football team in 2018.
Jones went through medical treatment and rehabilitation during his time with the team and was only a member of the team for one season, the spokesperson says.
“What I do know is the young man was a student beginning in 2018 and was a walk-on for one semester with our football program,” Williams said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, UVA football head coach Tony Elliott spoke publicly for the first time since the shooting. He described the days following the attack as a nightmare.
“I’m ready for somebody to pinch me and wake me up and say this didn’t happen,” Elliott said, adding that Tuesday “was much better, we were able to transition from the pain to finding a little bit of joy in celebrating the lives of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin.”
The deaths of players Chandler, Davis Jr. and Perry left three enormous holes on a team that felt more like family than anything, the coach said. He went on to describe them, calling Chandler “the life of the party,” Davis “the big man on campus” and Perry “the quiet guy everyone wanted to know about.”
Elliott commended the strength of his team and staff for coming together and being able to process the shooting. Elliott said the team has inspired him to keep pushing forward. At the same time, he said staff has made it their mission to ensure the team had all the resources they need and that no one went into isolation.
“The message to the team is we’re going to celebrate their lives going forward and the impact that they’ve made thus far and the legacy that they’re going to be a part of helping us establish going forward,” Elliott said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled the last name of UVA Health spokesperson Eric Swensen.