Charlottesville, VA – Prosecutors said the University of Virginia (UVA) student accused of opening fire on a busload of his classmates shot one victim who was asleep and appeared to be specifically targeting certain people.
Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Prosecutor James Hingeley said during a court appearance Wednesday morning that witnesses alleged 22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones was “not randomly shooting” victims when he opened fire on the bus the night of Nov. 13, TODAY reported.
Instead, he appeared to be targeting “certain people,” Hingeley said.
UVA football players D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler, and Lavel Davis have been identified as the three victims who were murdered in the attack, WRIC reported.
Two more victims were wounded.
Hingeley said that according to a witness, Chandler was asleep when Jones shot him, TODAY reported.
The horrific attack occurred at the Culbreth Garage at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, UVA Emergency Management said in a tweet.
“The shootings occurred on a bus full of students returning from a field trip,” UVA President Jim Ryan told reporters during a news conference on Monday.
The group had attended a play in Washington, DC that day as part of one of their classes.
University of Virginia Police Department (UVAPD) Chief Tim Longo said during the press conference that the gunman who opened fire was “amongst” those who were aboard the bus.
The two wounded victims who survived the shooting were rushed to University of Virginia Health, TODAY reported.
They have been identified as UVA football player Michael Hollins and UVA sophomore Marlee Morgan, according to FOX News.
The shooter fled the scene after the attack, leading to a 12-hour shelter-in-place order and a wide-scale manhunt, TODAY reported.
Jones was apprehended approximately 75 miles away in Richmond shortly before 11 a.m. on Nov. 14.
He has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and five counts of use of a firearm, TODAY reported.
Jones said during his initial court appearance on Wednesday morning that he will be retaining his own legal counsel.
No bond was immediately set.
Hingeley said Jones also had warrants out for his arrest from Petersburg, Virginia on charges of reckless driving and hit-and-run, TODAY reported.
The suspect was convicted of those offenses on Oct. 18, 2021, and was given a 12-month suspended sentence.
The alleged gunman had previously come to the attention of the UVA Threat Assessment Team in September, Chief Longo said during the press conference on Monday.
“They received information that Mr. Jones had made a comment about possessing a gun to a person who was unaffiliated with the university,” Chief Longo said.
The person who made the report did not actually see the suspect with a firearm and the comment about him owning a gun “was not made in conjunction with any threats,” the chief said.
Investigators spoke to the suspect’s roommate about the alleged firearm, but the roommate told them he had not seen him with a gun.
The suspect was also previously involved in some type of “hazing investigation” in the past, but that case was ultimately closed because witnesses refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to Chief Longo.
Jones was charged with illegally concealing a weapon in Chesterfield County, Virginia, on Feb. 22, 2021, FOX News reported.
Officers originally pulled him over that day near the intersection of Third Avenue and Boisseau Street because the registration on the vehicle was driving came back not on file, according to the news outlet.
Police found him in possession of a concealed 9mm semiautomatic handgun without a permit, FOX News reported.
The suspect also allegedly tried to purchase a handgun in 2018 and 2019 before he was legally able to do so.
“Both attempted purchases were forwarded to the Virginia State Police for further action,” Dance’s Sporting Goods owner Marlon Dance said, according to FOX News.
He was turned away again on July 8, 2021, after failing a background check due to a then-pending felony charge against him out of Petersburg.
That offense was later reduced to a misdemeanor, FOX News reported.
Jones was later able to purchase firearms legally as a result.
UVA’s final football game of the season was cancelled on Wednesday in the wake of the shooting, TODAY reported.
Chandler and Davis were both wide receivers for the team, and Perry was a linebacker.
Jones was on the team’s roster in 2018, but never played a game, FOX News reported.
Hollins, a UVA junior running back, underwent two surgeries as of Thursday and was listed in critical but stable condition.
His mother said her son initially escaped the gunfire and got off of the bus, but that he “went back in to help his friends,” FOX News reported.
That’s when he was shot.
She said Hollins cannot speak, but that he wrote his friends’ names on a piece of paper and “was taking the marker and beating on it,” wanting to know if they are okay.
She said she has not been able to bring herself to tell him that his three close friends are all dead, FOX News reported.
The other surviving victim, Morgan, has been released from the hospital and was continuing to recover at home.