Three University of Virginia football stars allegedly shot dead by fellow student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr

D’Sean Perry and Lavel Davis Jr played on the University of Virginia football team – the same team that suspect Christopher Darnell Jones made the roster for back in 2018

Rachel Sharp
Monday 14 November 2022 21:46 GMT
Manhunt underway after 3 killed on University of Virginia campus

Three University of Virginia star football players have been identified as the victims allegedly killed by a fellow student and former college football player in a mass shooting on the campus.

Linebacker D’Sean Perry, 22; Lavel Davis Jr, and Devin Chandler died on Sunday night when suspected gunman Christopher Darnell Jones allegedly opened fire around a parking garage on the university’s main campus along Culbreth Road in Charlottesville.

On Monday, Davis’s father Lavel Davis Sr wrote, “Lord please help me,” on Facebook, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Davis, who was 6’7” tall, ranked No 2 in the nation and No 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference for average yards per reception after the 2020 football season, the Associated Press reported.

He had returned to the field this year after suffering an injury in 2021. He was on a watch list for 2022 Comeback Player of the Year, per the AP.

Perry’s grieving father Sean Perry also confirmed his son’s death to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and said that he and the victim’s mother Happy were flying from their hometown of Miami to Virginia.

Perry, who was 6’3” tall and weighed 230 pounds, was a linebacker and defensive end for the Virginia Cavaliers football team – the same University of Virginia team that Mr Jones made the roster for back in 2018.

The 22-year-old football star played just hours before his death, when his team took on Pittsburgh on Saturday.

According to a profile on the Virginia Cavalliers website, Perry previously played linebacker, defensive line and tight end at Gulliver Prep and was named the South Florida Conference’s 2018 Defensive Player of the Year.

He also made the Team USA under-19s team and appeared in the International Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

After graduating high school, he majored in studio art at the University of Virginia.

Head football coach Tony Elliott said early Monday afternoon that the victims “were all good kids” and he would speak about them when the time is right.

Sean Lampkin, an assistant football coach at Newberry College, confirmed that his cousin Davis was also killed in the shooting.

He paid tribute to the wide receiver as “one of his most kind, humble, loving soldiers” and said that his family is “devastated” by the news.

“Saddening, saddening news this morning. God took one of his most kind, humble, loving soldiers off of the battlefield last night. Please pray for my family as we are devastated by the passing my cousin Lavel Davis Jr. Love and already miss you, kid,” he tweeted.

As a talented wide receiver, Davis was added to the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year Watch List just last month.

Jack Hamilton, a professor at UVA, said on Twitter that both Chandler and Davis were in his class and remembered the students as “wonderful people.”

“[D]evin was new to UVA last spring (he was a transfer student) and I had him in a large lecture class. he nevertheless made a point to come to my office hours repeatedly, often just to ask questions about how things worked around uva,” Mr Hamilton tweeted about Chandler.

“Later I helped him declare his American studies major, which he was really excited about. he was an unbelievably nice person, always a huge smile, really gregarious and funny. one of those people who’s just impossible not to like. It is so sad and enraging that he is gone.”

Mr Hamilton also said about Davis: “One thing that struck me about vel was how much his classmates liked him and vice versa. in my experience star athletes often tend to hang out with other athletes (understandable, given the time commitment) but vel seemed to go out of his way to make friends with non-athletes

Laurel Davis Jr was also killed in the mass shooting on Sunday night
Laurel Davis Jr was also killed in the mass shooting on Sunday night (Supplied)

Originally from Dorchester, South Carolina, Davis played wide receiver and safety at Woodland High School before he was selected to play in South Carolina’s North-South all-star game.

The two victims wounded in the mass shooting are yet to be publicly identified.

It is not clear if the victims knew their alleged killer or if the shooting rampage was targeted or carried out at random.

UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo revealed on Monday that a UVA multidisciplinary threat assessment team launched an investigation after receiving reports that Mr Jones made comments about owning a gun to an individual unaffiliated with the university.

Mr Longo said that Mr Jones had not made threats at the time, but simply mentioned he had a firearm.

“Because I want to be transparent with you, I want you to know … Mr Jones came to the attention of the University of Virginia’s threat assessment team in the fall of 2022,” Mr Longo said. “They received information that Mr Jones had made a comment about possessing a gun to a person that was unaffiliated with the university.”

It is unclear how the investigation unfolded, but Mr Longo said that the individual in question and Mr Jones’ roommate, who did not see the gun, were questioned. Mr Longo also mentioned that Mr Jones had been investigated in connection to an alleged hazing incident but the inquiry fell apart after witnesses did not come forward with information.

The team learned that Mr Jones had violated protocol by not informing the university about a criminal incident in February 2021 in which he had been involved. The criminal investigation took place outside of Charlottesville and was in relation to a concealed weapon violation, NBC reported.

D’Sean Perry was identified as a victim of Sunday’s shooting
D’Sean Perry was identified as a victim of Sunday’s shooting (CBS19 Sports)
Devin Chandler was identified as the third victim killed
Devin Chandler was identified as the third victim killed (AP)

An hours-long manhunt took place for Mr Jones, a 22-year-old student and former football player for the college, before his arrest was announced just before 11am on Monday.

He was last seen wearing a burgundy jacket, blue jeans and red shoes and was thought to have been driving a black SUV with the licence plate TWX3580, police said.

A campus-wide lockdown was lifted on Monday morning after students had been told to shelter in place and warned not to approach the “armed and dangerous” suspect.

Multiple law enforcement agencies were drafted in for the search, with a Virginia State Police helicopter circling the area and classes cancelled for Monday across the university.

University of Virginia Police tweeted on Monday morning that law enforcement teams were carrying out a “complete search on and around UVA grounds”.

The shooting unfolded at around 10.30pm on Sunday at the parking garage before Mr Jones allegedly went on the run.

Three victims were killed while another two were wounded and taken to hospital for treatment, with their conditions unclear at this time.

Sophomore student Em Gunter told the Times-Dispatch that she was watching a lecture in her dorm room when she heard six gunshots ring out at around 10.15pm.

The 19-year-old lives in the International Residential College, located across from Culbreth Road where the shooting took place.

She quickly messaged the other 350 students in her dorm building warning them to stay inside and hunkered down with her friends in her room.

“I just have no words. This is insane,” she said.

Ms Gunter told the paper that she used to live in Southwest Virginia which was the site of the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting.

According to a profile for Mr Jones on the Virginia Cavaliers website – the University of Virginia’s football team – he was on the team roster in 2018 but did not appear in any games that year.

The bio lists the 22-year-old’s numerous accolades and honours during high school.

He was described as a played linebacker and running back at Petersburg High School who “earned honorable mention all-conference honors as a senior”.

He spent his first three years of high school at Varina High School “where he earned honorable mention all-conference as a freshman and second-team accolades as a sophomore and junior”, the bio says.

Christopher Darnell Jones is wanted on suspicion of carrying out the attack
Christopher Darnell Jones is wanted on suspicion of carrying out the attack (UVAPD)

Mr Jones was a “member of the National Honor Society … National Technical Honor Society … president of Key Club … president of Jobs for Virginia Grads Program … named Student of the Year as a freshman and sophomore at Varina … son of Margo Ellis and Christopher Jones, Sr. … has three siblings, Eliza, Darrius and Varian,” the bio reads.

The 22-year-old was previously hailed as something of a success story after overcoming something of a troubled childhood to become a model student.

One of four siblings, he grew up in housing complexes in Richmond, according to a 2018 Times-Dispatch story.

Mr Jones’ father abandoned the family when he was a boy and he reportedly got into trouble at school for fighting.

But, the “smart and quiet” student appeared to turn things around, playing football and graduating from Petersburg in 2018.

As news spread of the campus shooting, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin released a statement saying he was “praying” for the university community.

“Suzanne and I are praying for the UVA community. Virginia State Police is fully coordinating with UVA police department and local authorities,” he tweeted on Monday.

“Please shelter in place while the authorities work to locate the suspect.

“For family and friends with questions about the event, @UVA has established an Emergency Hotline at 877-685-4836”

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