The suspect in the shooting of University of Virginia student Christopher Darnell Jones was previously arrested during a traffic stop while in possession of a semi-automatic weapon and reportedly failed a background check to purchase weapons.
Jones, a UVA student who made the football team his freshman year but never played in a game, has been issued a warrant without bail in connection with the murders of three active UVA football players, Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry, as well as the injuries to the surviving victims, active UVA football player Michael Hollins Jr. and Marlee Morgan, a sophomore in college.
Records show Jones was caught carrying a concealed 9mm semi-automatic handgun during a traffic stop in Chesterfield County, Virginia on February 22, 2021. Police said officers stopped him near Boisseau Street and Third Avenue. because the registration of the vehicle that Jones was driving was not returned to the file.
He was found in possession of the weapon and did not have a permit, police said.
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Officers discovered that Jones was also wanted in Petersburg, Virginia, on two pending charges of failing to stop for an accident resulting in more than $1,000 in damages and reckless driving for an incident that occurred on August 9, 2020, The Daily Progress, reported a newspaper published in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Jones was taken into custody for outstanding warrants.
He was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and was later convicted in Chesterfield General District Court of that misdemeanor on June 10, 2021.
Jones was fined $100 and received a 12-month sentence, which was suspended.
Jones’ gun-purchasing history and three previous unsuccessful attempts to purchase firearms were also disclosed Wednesday.
Jones successfully purchased two guns from Dance’s Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights, Virginia, this year, according to store owner Marlon Dance, who issued a statement to The Daily Progress.
“There was nothing noteworthy about these purchases,” Dance said.
Jones bought a rifle on February 19 and a Glock 45 9mm pistol with an extra magazine on July 8.
Jones had previously tried to buy guns at the same store, but was denied three times.
Dance said those attempts were reported to state authorities. On December 31, 2018, Jones attempted to purchase a firearm before turning 21 and was legally able to purchase one. He tried again in 2019.
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“Both purchase attempts were referred to the Virginia State Police for further action,” Dance said.
On July 8, 2021, Jones attempted to purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 .22 caliber rifle.
The background check failed because of a pending felony charge against Jones for the accident in Petersburg, according to the gun store owner.
On October 28, 2021, Jones pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of “failing to report an accident under $1,000.” He received another 12-month sentence, which was suspended.
Jones also did not oppose reckless driving, The Daily Progress reported. Because the felony charge was downgraded to a misdemeanor, Jones was legally able to purchase guns and did so in 2022, the newspaper said.
The two 12-month suspended sentences came from two separate jurisdictions.
Police said Jones allegedly used a handgun to carry out what witnesses described as a targeted shooting on a charter bus Sunday night as he was returning to a campus parking lot from a school field trip to Washington, D.C. to see a play. It is unclear if that same gun was purchased at Dance’s Sporting Goods.
More than 500 students sheltered in place during a 12-hour manhunt and search of the school grounds. Jones was detained off campus in Henrico, Virginia.
In a video statement Wednesday, UVA President Jim Ryan announced that a memorial service will be held in lieu of the final home game on Saturday to honor the victims at 3:30 p.m. at the John Paul Jones Arena. Ryan also said he welcomed an “external review” into the university’s handling of Jones before the shooting.
“The criminal investigation is ongoing and we are also inviting an external review regarding the university’s interactions with the suspect and whether we did everything possible to prevent or avert this tragedy,” Ryan said. “This is likely to take a while, but we’ll share and act on what we ultimately learn. It’s possible, and perhaps likely, that we’ll never find a single thing that explains this. It’s also possible that we’ll never really understand why.” this happened. But what we learn, we will share.”
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UVA’s threat assessment team reportedly heard from an undisclosed person in September of this year that Jones told someone he had a gun. UVA prohibits all firearms on campus, regardless of concealed carry permit status.
Police said Jones also faced an investigation for hazing, but the investigation was later dropped because witnesses were unwilling to cooperate in the proceedings.
Jones was also on the radar of UVA’s threat assessment team for an alleged criminal incident involving a weapons violation that occurred outside Charlottesville in February 2021. Jones was facing pending administrative charges through the university’s judicial council. for failing to report the matter to the university, as required. from students.
On Wednesday, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., reportedly encouraged UVA and state officials to form an independent panel of experts to review the shooting. As the governor of Virginia at the time, Kaine followed suit following the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile, Hollins, the UVA junior running back who remains in critical but stable condition after two surgeries, is apparently unaware that his three teammates and close friends have died.
Speaking to CBS News on Tuesday, his mother, Brenda Hollins, said he initially “got off the bus” unharmed, but “came back to help his friends and was shot.”
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She said that her son cannot speak but communicates by writing on paper. The mother said she spelled out the names or the letters in the names of her three friends and “she was taking the marker and hitting it because she wants to know.” She said she still hasn’t made up her mind to tell him at this stage of Hollins’ recovery.
The second surviving victim has already been released from the hospital.