On a cold Sunday, November 13th of 2022, the University of Virginia African American Theatre class was on a field trip to Washington D.C. with their professor to see a play about Emmett Till, the young African-American man viciously killed in an infamous hate crime. Afterwards, the trip-goers went out to eat Ethiopian food. During the trip, one student, who was not a member of the class, stayed largely to himself. Among the joy and excitement of the day, he was planning a massacre.
The perpetrator, 22 year old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., sat at the back of the bus, quiet and seemingly “out of place” during the trip. The shooting was not Jones’s first arrest involving weapons, he had previously been charged with a misdemeanor concealed carry charge. He had previously hid this from UVA, and was in the process facing consequences for hiding the arrest at the time of the attack. He also purchased a handgun in February of this year, about seven months before the shooting. He was said to be extremely uncooperative with the investigators, and his father described him as “paranoid” in phone calls made home recently.
Jones, a former football player for UVA during his freshman year, never actually played in a UVA football game, discovering an injury that prevented him from contributing. This was a stark contrast to his former designation as a star football player at his high school. It is unknown if this played into his motive, which has yet to be determined. However, due to the status of the three victims as current UVA football players, speculation is arising over whether or not the attack was personal.
The victims of the attack were innocently enjoying the field trip before the violence began. Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were described as playing music and entertaining their fellow students all day. All three men were well-liked football players, with both their professors and peers commenting on their kindness. Davis’s last conversation with a fellow student on that bus was about his excitement to return to the field after a concussion. Unfortunately, this opportunity would never come to fruition.
As the bus arrived at the UVA campus, gunshots broke out. The vehicle became filled with ash and smoke as students clamored to escape over the deceased bodies of their peers. Jones walked off the bus calmly into the darkness of the Charlottesville night. The rest of the students on the bus who had hidden between the seats were left to report the incident. One student attempted to comfort Davis in his last moments of life, telling him they were calling for help,
“We’re trying to get you help, Lavel,” she said she told him. “We’re calling you an ambulance.” – The Washington Post
Quickly, the UVA campus went into lockdown as the shooter evaded police for a full 12 hours, forcing students into a “run, hide, fight” situation. Terrified students sheltered in place until the next morning, when Jones was apprehended “without incident” in Richmond, Virginia. As of now, he is facing three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun to commit a felony. Two other students were injured in the incident, one in critical condition but alive.
The murder of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry has not gone without comment from government officials. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated,
“We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off of America’s streets-” (NPR).
It is unclear as of now if any gun control action will be taken in response to the shooting. However, with there not being a single week without a mass shooting so far in 2022, and little action taken, it is unlikely anything will change after this incident. Condolences have been expressed by the president and other government officials to the families of the victims and the faculty and students of University of Virginia.
Rest in Peace: Devin Chandler (2002-2022), Lavel Davis Jr. (2002-2022), D’Sean Perry (2000-2022).