Prosecutor: Witness told police UVA suspect targeted victims

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A witness who noticed a University of Virginia pupil open fireplace onboard a bus coming back from a area journey told police the gunman targeted particular victims — lots of them soccer gamers — taking pictures one as he slept, a prosecutor mentioned in courtroom Wednesday.

The particulars emerged in the course of the suspect’s first courtroom look, the identical day college students returned to lessons and the college introduced it was canceling its Saturday soccer sport within the wake of the lethal taking pictures.

A witness who was proven a photograph of the taking pictures suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., recognized him because the gunman, the prosecutor mentioned. The violence Sunday night time left three soccer gamers useless and one participant and one other pupil wounded.

Jones, a former soccer participant, appeared by video hyperlink from an area jail for the courtroom listening to Wednesday. He didn’t enter a plea to the quite a few costs he faces and mentioned he plans to rent an lawyer. A choose ordered him held with out bond and appointed a public defender to symbolize him till he secures non-public counsel.

University officers and police have mentioned Jones, who turns 23 on Thursday, joined a gaggle of about two dozen others on a area journey Sunday from the Charlottesville campus to see a sport within the nation’s capital, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) away. When their bus arrived again on campus, authorities have mentioned Jones opened fireplace, killing Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler..

Police have mentioned Jones was capable of flee the taking pictures scene, setting off a manhunt and 12-hour campus lockdown that left many college students petrified. He faces three counts of second-degree homicide, two counts of malicious wounding and extra gun-related costs.

The violence on the state’s flagship public college has set off days of mourning amongst college students and school, the broader Charlottesville group and different supporters. Classes resumed Wednesday, as the varsity introduced it was canceling its last residence sport of the season scheduled for the weekend in opposition to Coastal Carolina. No resolution has been made but about his last sport of the season Nov. 26 in opposition to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Students described a variety of feelings as they returned to lessons.

“It’s a fairly surreal expertise, to be trustworthy,” mentioned Carter Paulen, a fourth-year pupil majoring in techniques engineering and economics. “It’s good to see pleasant faces, however I believe everyone seems to be attempting to really feel regular once more within the face of all of the adversity.”

Caden Kennedy, a second-year pupil, mentioned many college students returned to lessons, “however there are some people who find themselves residence and should be residence.”

“I believe the college itself could be very conscious of the truth that not everybody is able to return,” Kennedy mentioned. “Teachers are positively attempting to work with everybody the place everyone seems to be at.”

The college won’t require undergraduate college students to finish any graded assignments or take exams earlier than the Thanksgiving break. University President Jim Ryan has opened his on-campus residence to college students in the course of the afternoons this week, and a memorial service for the victims is within the works.

During Wednesday’s courtroom listening to, Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley gave a quick account of what police say occurred Sunday night time after officers responded to a report of pictures fired close to a parking storage.

One witness told police the suspect pointed the gun at Chandler, shot him whereas he was sleeping, and Chandler slid to the ground, Hingeley mentioned.

The witness mentioned Jones was “aiming at sure folks” and never taking pictures randomly, in line with Hingeley.

Ryan mentioned Monday that the authorities didn’t have a “full understanding” of the motive behind the taking pictures. Court paperwork have supplied no extra perception, and Hingeley didn’t tackle a attainable motive Wednesday.

The public defender appointed to symbolize Jones didn’t tackle the substance of the fees Wednesday. She additionally declined to remark outdoors the courtroom.

Jones, who has been in custody since he was arrested in suburban Richmond late Monday morning, appeared somber. He didn’t converse in the course of the listening to besides to reply to questions from the choose, together with about his employment and talent to pay for an lawyer.

Jones, a walk-on member of the soccer staff in the course of the 2018 season, had labored part-time for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia since September, Kate Lambert, the group’s CEO, confirmed in an emailed assertion.

Hingeley additionally reviewed Jones’ previous felony document in courtroom Wednesday. In February 2021, Jones was charged in Chesterfield County with possession of a hid handgun and not using a allow and later given a 12-month suspended sentence, Hingeley mentioned.

At the time of that arrest, Jones had two excellent warrants in reference to a hit-and-run accident with property injury and reckless driving from Petersburg. He was convicted of each costs and in addition given 12-month suspended sentences on each, Hingeley mentioned.

The college has mentioned Jones’ failure to report the misdemeanor hid weapon conviction was a consideration in an ongoing evaluation of Jones by its threat-assessment staff. The college initially mentioned its pupil affairs workplace had escalated Jones’ case in late October to the University Judiciary Committee, a student-run physique that might have enacted disciplinary motion. But late Tuesday night time, spokesperson Brian Coy confirmed that the college had not really escalated the report. It lastly did so Tuesday night time, Coy mentioned.

The college’s governing board — the Board of Visitors — held an emergency assembly Wednesday to obtain briefings from legislation enforcement, emergency administration officers, employees members and authorized counsel on the taking pictures and the investigation, in line with a public agenda. The board held its assembly in government session. The public was not allowed to be current, and a college spokesperson mentioned board members would haven’t any remark.

Of the 2 college students who had been hospitalized, one was discharged from the UVA Medical Center on Tuesday, in line with Eric Swensen, a well being system spokesperson.

A household spokesperson for Mike Hollins, a operating again on the staff who was shot within the again, mentioned he was displaying indicators of enchancment Tuesday after a second surgical procedure. He was faraway from a ventilator and was capable of go to with household and associates in his hospital room, mentioned Joe Gipson, the chief working officer of a legislation agency in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the place Hollins’ mom, Brenda Hollins, works. Gipson later issued a press release reiterating that Hollins was going to strategy his lengthy restoration with the identical tenacity he used on the sector and within the classroom.

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Associated Press author Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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