The University of Virginia community mourned on Tuesday as new details emerged both about the three football players killed in a campus shooting this week and the criminal charges the suspect, a former player, faces.
According to Li Cohen and Gina Martinez, “University of Virginia head football coach Tony Elliott and athletics director Carla Williams held back tears as they spoke about the outpouring of support the school has received and how team members are healing following the shooting deaths of three football players on Sunday night.”
“It feels like it’s a nightmare, to be honest with you. And I’m ready for somebody to pinch me and wake me up and say that this didn’t happen,” university head football coach Tony Elliott said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
University officials and police have said a student, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, joined a group of about two dozen others on a field trip Sunday from the Charlottesville campus to see a play in the nation’s capital, about 120 miles away. When their bus arrived back on campus, Jones opened fire, killing the three players and wounding two others, one of them also a football player, authorities said.
Authorities said the suspect was able to flee the shooting scene, setting off a manhunt and 12-hour campus lockdown before he was taken into custody elsewhere in the state late Monday morning. The suspect faces three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and additional gun-related charges.
Officials said Monday that Jones had landed on the radar of school authorities in previous years.
Longo said Monday that in September, the Office of Student Affairs received information that Jones had made a comment about possessing a gun to a person unaffiliated with the university. The office flagged that to a multidisciplinary threat assessment team affiliated with the university.
The university canceled classes Tuesday and made counselors and therapy dogs available as students visited temporary memorials on campus, leaving flowers or other remembrances. Classes were to resume Wednesday though the university said it wouldn’t require undergraduate students to complete any graded assignments or take exams before the Thanksgiving break.
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