Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.: On November 13th 2022, three football players and two other students were fatally shot on the campus of University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.’s 22-year-old murder spree that claimed three lives and injured two more students. Christopher was an ex-footballer himself with legal and disciplinary troubles prior to becoming involved in such violent activity – learn more here about him and what led up to this rampage.
A troubled past
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Jones was raised in Richmond, Virginia where he attended Highland Springs High School and participated in football as a wide receiver. A three-star recruit, Jones received offers from multiple colleges – UVA, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion among them – but ultimately decided on UVA in 2019 where he joined their football team as a walk-on player.
Jones’ academic and athletic career at UVA proved short-lived. In October 2020, he was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon without permission after police discovered a loaded handgun in his car during a traffic stop. On February 2021 he pled guilty to misdemeanor charge of carrying concealed weapon without permit and received 12-months probation plus 100 hours community service, forfeit his gun, as well as undergo mental health evaluation.
Jones was found guilty and immediately suspended from both UVA’s football team and university, although he appealed. As part of his appeal he was allowed back into UVA but not its football program. Furthermore, Jones failed to notify UVA about his conviction which violated its student conduct code of conduct.
In September 2021, Jones again caused concern for his mental state and potential violence. He posted a video to social media in which he claimed to possess a gun and threatened anyone who crossed him; this video was reported to UVA police; they investigated but found no trace of firearms; nonetheless they informed university administration who began disciplinary proceedings against Jones.
A deadly shooting
On November 13, 2022, Jones and several other UVA students, including four football players, traveled to Washington DC as part of a sociology class field trip. When they returned around 10 p.m. they boarded a charter bus that had been left at Culbreth Garage parking structure on campus for transportation back home. On this fateful evening there would be deadly gunfire as part of this activity.
Police believe Jones retrieved firearms from his car parked nearby and opened fire, killing three football players and injuring two students on board the bus. These included Devin Chandler (19), Lavel “Tyler” Davis Jr. (20) from South Carolina; D’Sean Perry (19) of Miami as well as Mike Hollins (20), from Baton Rouge in Louisiana and Marlee Morgan (19), both from Richmond in Virginia.
Jones fled from Charlottesville and triggered a 12-hour manhunt involving local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Ultimately he was located and arrested around 10 a.m. the following morning at a hotel in Henrico County 70 miles away near Richmond around 10 am in Henrico County near Richmond where he was taken without incident and transported back to Albemarle County to face multiple charges that included three counts of second-degree murder, two malicious wounding charges as well as six firearm usage counts for commission of crimes as well as six firearm usage charges related to other charges including three charges related to using firearm in connection with other offenses against him as well.
A motive unknown
It remains unknown as to the motive for Jones’ shooting; no explanation has been offered as to his actions. According to former teammates and classmates of Jones’, they remember him as being quiet and reserved person without showing signs of hostility or aggression; others have reported him having trouble in personal and academic areas, leading them to feel alienated after having to leave the football team.
Police have not discovered any prior tension between Jones and the victims from their sociology class who all attended school together, or any form of relationship. Furthermore, no permit was found for him using weapons he obtained legally prior to using them during this shooting spree. A gun shop owner reported that in 2020 Jones attempted to purchase firearms twice but failed a background check both times; later he purchased two handguns and a rifle independently in 2021.
This tragedy has stunned and saddened both UVA’s community as a whole and the nation. One of the deadliest campus shootings ever, UVA offered counseling services and support services to both students and staff following this tragic event, holding memorial services and holding several vigils to remember those lost. University President, Jim Ryan has requested a comprehensive review of university policies concerning student conduct, safety, and mental health as part of this review process.
Jones is currently being held without bond at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail in Charlottesville. His lawyers will appear before a court for a motions hearing on October 20, 2023 to request a change of venue and psychopsychiatric evaluation; should they fail in this endeavour he could face life imprisonment without parole.