Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. will make his first court appearance Wednesday as he faces charges for allegedly shooting and killing three people and injuring two others at the University of Virginia. Photo courtesy University of Virginia Police Department
Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., the suspect in the shooting death of three University of Virginia football players over the weekend was held without bail after he made his first court appearance Wednesday.
Appearing at the hearing via video link from jail, Jones was appointed an attorney but said he would be looking to secure his own. Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Office Prosecutor James Hingeley charged that Jones shot five people after a field trip.
He allegedly shot and killed victim Devin Chandler while he was sleeping on the field trip bus. Prosecutors charged Jones with three counts of second-degree murder, five counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and two counts of malicious wounding in connection with the campus carnage.
Chandler and two other students who died, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry, were members of the University of Virginia Cavalier football team. Jones, was a former walk-on football player at the school. It was not clear, though, if Jones had any relationship with those who died.
Jones, who previously worked at the Charlottesville Boys and Girls Club and at a local hospital, did not enter a plea.
The team, student body, and entire Charlottesville community have been emotionally devastated by the tragedy, with mourners holding memorials and candlelight vigils as Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered flags lowered to half-mast across the state.
On Tuesday night, officials identified the surviving victims as Marlee Morgan, who has since been released from the hospital; and Michael Hollins, a junior tailback on the team who was in serious but stable condition after having to be intubated to treat his injuries.
The gunfire erupted Sunday on a charter bus full of students that had just returned to the Charlottesville campus from a field trip in Washington D.C.
Jones, who remained a student after walking on to the school's football team in 2018, was among the those who traveled that day, school administrators later confirmed.
After the shooting, the suspect went on the run, sparking a 12-hour manhunt before Jones was arrested about 80 miles east in Henrico County.
On Tuesday, he was moved to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail in preparation for a Wednesday bond hearing.
At least one witness on the bus said she observed a confrontation between Jones and one of the victims before shots rang out.
"[Jones] got up and pushed Lavel," Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV. "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."
Before Sunday's shooting, Jones was under investigation by the university's judicial council over his alleged possession of a firearm, which had been reported to the Student Affairs department as part of a hazing complaint, although Jones was not believed to be a threat at that time.
"In the course of their investigation, university officials spoke with Mr. Jones' roommate, who gave no indication of the presence of any weapons," said university spokesman Brian Coy. "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."
Facing disciplinary action, Jones refused to cooperate with the probe and would not answer questions that university officials posed to him about the gun and the charges that he faced previously.
The case was elevated to the school's judicial council on Oct. 27 after a threat assessment team recommended Jones should be punished for his actions.
The outcome of the case, however, was still pending, meaning Jones did not know his fate at the time of the shooting.
A campus hazing investigation turned cold after witnesses refused to come forward.
Jones, who is listed on the school's athletics website as a freshman member of the 2018 football team, did not play in any games that season due to a lingering injury.
"The young man was a student beginning in 2018 and was a walk-on or one semester with our football program," said UVA Athletics Director Carla Williams.