A witness who saw a student at the University of VirginiaPolice on a bus returning from a field trip were told how the gunman targeted specific victims – several of them – One of them was shot while he was sleeping, a prosecutor said in court on Wednesday. The details came to light during the suspect’s first court appearance.
Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingley said a witness who was shown a picture of the shooting suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., identified him as the gunman. Three football players were killed and a player and another student were injured in the violence on Sunday night.
The suspect, a former football player, appeared by video link from a local jail for Wednesday’s court hearing. He did not enter a plea deal to face the multiple charges and said he plans to hire an attorney. A judge ordered her held without bond and appointed a public defender to represent her until she could secure a private attorney.
University officials and police have said the 22-year-old suspect joined a group of about two dozen others on a field trip Sunday from the Charlottesville campus to watch a play about 120 miles away in the nation’s capital. When their bus returned to campus, officers said the suspect opened fire, killing LaVell Davis Jr.and Devin Chandler.
A witness told police the suspect pointed a gun at Chandler, shot him while he was sleeping, and Chandler fell to the floor, Hingley said.
According to Hingley, the witness said the suspect was “targeting a few people” and was not shooting at random.
Responding officers found Chandler and Perry dead on the bus, Hingley said. He said Davis died during treatment at the hospital.
The public defender appointed to represent the suspect did not address the substance of the allegations on Wednesday. He also declined to comment outside the court.
The judge set December for hearing in the case.
Authorities said the suspect managed to flee the shooting scene, setting off a manhunt and a 12-hour campus lockdown, before being taken into custody elsewhere in the state on Monday morning. The suspect faces three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and additional gun charges.
The violence at the state’s premier public university has set off days of mourning among students and faculty, the wider Charlottesville community and other supporters. Classes resumed on Wednesday.
University President Jim Ryan said Monday that officials did not have a “full understanding” of the motive behind the shootings. Court documents filed so far in the case have provided no additional insight, and Hingele did not address a possible motive Wednesday.
as well as school on WednesdaysIt was canceling its final home game of the season against Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
Announcing the cancellation, the university said in a news release that no decision has yet been made about whether UVA will participate in its final game of the season Nov. 26 against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
According to athletics director Carla Williams, the suspect was a member of the football team during a semester walk-on during the 2018 season.
In interviews, his father expressed confusion and surprise and apologized to the families of the victims.
One of the two hospitalized students was released from the medical center on Tuesday, according to health system spokesman Eric Swensen.
Family members of running back Mike Hollins said he underwent a second surgery on Tuesday.
In her first televised interview since the shooting, Hollins’ mother Brenda Hollinsthat his son does not yet know that three of his friends and teammates were killed.
In court Wednesday, Hingley also reviewed the suspect’s past criminal record. Hingley said that in February 2021, he was charged in Chesterfield County with possessing a concealed handgun without a permit and was subsequently given a 12-month suspended sentence.
At the time of that arrest, the suspect had two outstanding warrants in connection with a hit-and-run accident with property damage and reckless driving from Petersburg. Hingley said he was convicted of both charges and given a suspended sentence of 12 months on both.
The university has said the suspect’s failure to conceal a suspected weapon conviction was being considered in its ongoing review by its threat-assessment team. The university initially said its student affairs office referred the suspected case in late October to the University Judiciary Committee, a student-run body that could take disciplinary action. But late Tuesday, a spokesperson confirmed that the university had in fact not forwarded the report and was working on doing so.