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UVa President Ryan calls for external review

This story has been updated to reflect breaking news.

UVa President Jim Ryan said Wednesday night in a video message to the UVa community that UVa is inviting an external review related to the shootings that killed three students and injured two others on Grounds Sunday night after a class field trip.

The call comes in collaboration with the Board of Visitors and the Attorney General’s office, according to the university.

“…the criminal investigation is underway, and we are also inviting an external review with respect to the university’s interactions with the suspect and whether we did all we could to avoid this tragedy,” Ryan said in the video. “This will likely take a while, but we will share — and act upon — what we ultimately learn.”

Ryan also said that it’s possible “and perhaps even likely, that we will never find one single thing that will explain this,” but that UVa will share what it learns.

Ryan also announced an all-University memorial service on Saturday to honor the lives of the three students whose lives were taken and the two students who were injured on Nov. 13. The service will be at 3:30 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.

Many questions remain about how Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., the student now charged with murdering three students on Nov. 13, obtained the gun he allegedly used to shoot Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler, all members of the UVa football team. Two other students, football player Mike Hollins and Marlee Morgan, were injured in the shooting.

Hollins came through a second surgery on Tuesday to repair internal injuries and is in fair condition. His mother, Brenda, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon thanking people for their prayers, asking for prayers for the families of the deceased students and also asking for privacy as Hollins heals.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., urged university and state officials to convene an independent panel of experts to review every aspect of the fatal shooting of three members of the university’s football team on Sunday, as he did as governor days after a Virginia Tech student killed 32 students and faculty and wounded 17 others before killing himself on April 16, 2007.

Marlon Dance, the owner of Dance’s Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights, provided information in a public statement late Wednesday, which revealed Jones’s gun-buying history and failed attempts to buy guns.

The statement said that Jones bought two firearms from the store in 2022. Jones bought a rifle on Feb. 19 and a pistol with an additional magazine on July 8.

“There was nothing noteworthy about these purchases,” the statement read.

But earlier, Jones had tried and failed to buy guns from Dance’s Sporting Goods, and the attempts were reported to state authorities.

On Dec. 31, 2018, Jones tried to purchase a handgun before he was 21 and could legally buy one, the company statement said. In 2019, he tried again, according to Dance.

“Both attempted purchases were forwarded to the Virginia State Police for further action,” Dance said.

In addition, on July 8, 2021, Jones attempted to purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22, .22-caliber rifle, but failed the background check, Dance said.

That was because of a pending felony charge against Jones for failing to stop for an accident in Petersburg with more than $1,000 in damages.

On Oct. 28, 2021, Jones pleaded no contest to an amended charge of “not reporting an accident under $1,000,” a misdemeanor. He received a 12-month suspended jail term. He also pleaded no contest to reckless driving.

With the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, Jones could and did legally buy guns again. In February of 2022, Jones bought a rifle from Dance’s Sporting Goods and in July, 2022, a Glock 45 9mm pistol.

In September, 2022, a UVa threat assessment team heard from an undisclosed person that Jones told someone he had a gun.

University policy prohibits “the possession, storage, or use of any weapon by any University student … regardless of whether a person has a concealed weapon permit,” on university property.

Student Affairs followed up on the report, talking to the person who made the report. It also tried to contact Jones, Longo said.

Longo did not say how the investigator tried to reach Jones. It is unclear whether an investigator ever talked to Jones.

Sometime this fall, an investigator did reach Jones’s roommate, whose name has not been disclosed, Longo said. The roommate told the investigator on the assessment team that he had not seen a gun in Jones’s possession.

On Oct. 27, the assessment team escalated the case for disciplinary action, but it is unclear whether anything happened after that referral — and before the deadly shooting.

Lynne Anderson contributed to this report.


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