Tragedy Strikes UVA Campus


The sound of gunshots rang near a University of Virginia parking garage and academic building on the night of Sunday, Nov. 13. Sounds of faint pops and sights of people fleeing buses joined the growing sirens and reading of text: “ACTIVE ATTACKER… RUN HIDE FIGHT.”

Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry, student athletes and members of the Cavalier football team, were shot and killed returning from a field trip to Washington D.C. Current suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a former first-year football player, is without a confirmed motivation for the crime. 

“I cannot find the words to express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling today after the tragic events last night that resulted in the deaths of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin, and the others who were injured,” UVA football coach Tony Elliott said in a statement. “These were incredible young men with huge aspirations and extremely bright futures.”

The country has been paying tribute to the three football players recognized for their positive impact on the world. Devin Chandler Jr. was described to be bubbly and confident, adding a positive light to every room; he was painted as always smiling and fitting in with everyone. Lavel Davis Jr. is remembered as an incredible teammate and friend who had an impact on every life he was a part of. D’Sean Perry was known to have high moral standards and to always be looking out for others; all of which hurts the country more, knowing such respectable young men were taken too soon.

“This is an unimaginably sad day for our community,” UVA President Jim Ryan said in a press conference on Monday. “The entire university community is grieving this morning… As I’ve said before, when I see our students, I see my own kids, and I cannot imagine anything worse for a parent than losing a child.”

Along with Davis, Chandler, and Perry, the attack found two more victims, though they managed to escape with their lives. One of the wounded was junior football player Michael Hollins, who was shot in the back and is now in stable condition. The other was a female student reported to be in good condition as of Tuesday morning. 

“I was devastated,” Brenda Hollins, mother of Mike Hollins, said to ESPN. “Just walking into his room, I saw his feet first and they weren’t moving. And then I hear the machines and I just see him lying there. He was on the ventilator. The worst thing that I could have ever imagined to see in the world.”

I’m really, really shaken up. Campus doesn’t feel the same.

— Nicolas West

Suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. is currently being held in custody on three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of handgun use. Allegedly, Jones had made a threat about having a gun on campus, although Jones’ roommate hadn’t seen the weapon. The suspect had previously been charged with misdemeanor concealed weapons outside Charlottesville in February 2021.

“My heart goes out to [the victims] families,” Jones’ father, Chris Jones Sr., said on a Richmond TV station. “I don’t know what to say, except I’m sorry, on his behalf, and I apologize.”

Thousands of UVA students and community members gathered last Monday night for a vigil on the South Lawn of the campus, holding a fifteen-minute moment of silence. With a group of students and football players walking to the front, everyone pointed candles and phones towards the group on Old Cabell Hall. 

“I’m really, really shaken up,” student Nicolas West said in an interview with the Washington Post. “Campus doesn’t feel the same.” 

Others outside of the campus showed their support, too: the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team had warm-up shirts that honored the victims. Vice President Kamala Harris, Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin, and many other prominent figures have even spoken out against this act of violence as well. 

“It’s tragic,” Harris said to reporters. “Of course, our prayers are with the families of the victims and it’s just yet a constant reminder that we have to do better in terms of gun safety laws in our country.”

This tragedy has left people wondering how long the country must wait to make preventative changes for occurrences like this. UVA, the victims’ families, and the nation are overwhelmed with grief from yet another loss of innocent lives, finding themselves in an all-too-familiar aftermath of supporting one another through tragedy.

“I wish it was me instead of him,” Thaddeus Davis told the Washington Post. “That’s my son. I say I wish I was up there instead of him.”