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University of Virginia manhunt: Who is former football player Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr.?

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An active manhunt is underway Monday morning on and around the University of Virginia grounds for Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., a UVA student and former college football player named as the suspect in the shooting at the Charlottesville campus on Sunday night that left three people dead and two others injured.

Jones, now considered armed and dangerous, was a former UVA football player. According to the school’s athletic department website, he was on the football team in 2018 but never played in a game.

Police describe Jones as a black male last seen wearing a burgundy jacket or hoodie, blue jeans and red shoes. He could be driving a black SUV with the Virginia tag TWX3580.

Few details were immediately known about the suspected gunman.

SHOOTING AT UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA KILLS 3, INJURIES 2; FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER NAMED AS SUSPECT

University of Virginia police released a photo of Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who has been named a suspect in a shooting on the UVA campus on November 13, 2022.
(University of Virginia Police/Twitter)

In a message to the community Monday morning, UVA President Jim Ryan confirmed that Jones is a student.

“As of this writing, I am heartbroken to report that the shooting has resulted in three deaths; two additional victims were injured and are receiving medical attention,” Ryan wrote. “Our University Police Department has joined forces with other law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect, and we will keep our community informed of developments as the situation evolves.”

Classes were canceled on Monday as students and teachers were told to remain sheltered in place.

Jones reportedly played football throughout high school.

He previously attended Varina High School for three years before transferring to Petersburg High School, where he played linebacker and running back as a senior, Newsweek reported.

In 2018, Jones was featured in a story for the Richmond Times-Dispatch with the headline: “Petersburg High grad navigated fractured road to graduation.”

Police (iStock)

The article says that Jones, who grew up in Richmond’s Essex Village and Mosby Court housing projects, watched her parents divorce at the age of five and did not see her father again until years later, as a teenager.

“That was one of the most traumatic things that happened to me in my life. I didn’t understand why he left. When I went to school, people didn’t understand me,” Jones told the newspaper at the time.

According to relatives, he did well in school, but Jones also got into fights, leading to suspensions. He said family members and mentors pushed him to focus on his grades and control his anger. “If it wasn’t for these people in my life, I would have been just another kid whose father left him,” Jones reportedly said.

Multiple agencies, including the Virginia State Police helicopter, are actively searching for the suspect.

The shooting unfolded about a month before exam week for the fall semester.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, the UVA Police Department and UVA Emergency Management advised on their Twitter accounts that a full search was underway in and around the university grounds at this time and that they were expecting a response. Increased law enforcement presence and continue to shelter in place.

Police car with the lights on.

Police car with the lights on.
(iStock)

The shooting occurred around 10:30 p.m. Sunday in the Culbreth parking lot, prompting a campus alert that warned the school community of a reported active assailant with a firearm and “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.”

Ryan confirmed that the shooting occurred on university grounds.

“This is a message any leader hopes they never have to send, and I am devastated that this violence has visited the University of Virginia,” Ryan added Monday morning. “Today I hold the victims, their families, and all members of the University of Virginia community in my heart, and we will make plans to come together as a community in mourning as soon as the suspect is apprehended.”

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Vice President and Dean of Students Robyn S. Hadley said in a message to the student body early Monday: “I am on the Grounds like many of you; I am sheltering in place and in direct contact with University leadership and the UPD”.

“Please take shelter-in-place commands seriously as the situation remains active. The suspect is armed and dangerous. If he is not inside and safe, please seek security immediately,” the message added.

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