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UVa stays quiet on the finding of guns in suspect's dorm room

This story has been updated to describe the University of Virginia’s policy on guns on Grounds. They are explicitly banned, a UVa spokesman said.

The University of Virginia Office of Student Affairs is not providing details of the investigation into the tip that Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr. had a gun or that a search on Nov. 14 found guns in his dorm room. And a UVa spokesman said that it is wrong to say the university’s housing policy does not explicitly ban guns just because they were not included on a list of banned items under the headline "Firearms and weapons."

Police found several firearms and accessories in the on-campus apartment of Jones, Jr., the UVa student who was arrested for killing three fellow students and shooting another two students on Sunday night, according to a search warrant obtained by The Daily Progress on Thursday.

On the Monday after the shooting, which took place on a bus of 22 university students returning from a field trip, special Agent B.D. Tuggle with the Virginia State Police obtained a warrant to search Jones’ apartment in Bice House in the Central Grounds area of the university. Tuggle recovered a Ruger AR-556 (a semi-automatic rifle), a single nine-millimeter bullet, a Smith & Wesson model 39 pistol, a pair of full or nearly full 30-round AR magazines, a box of Winchester .223 ammunition, and two Glock nine-millimeter magazines from Jones’ room.

Tuggle also discovered firearm accessories at the apartment, including an optical sight, a red dot sight, fingerless gloves, a buffer spring, a holster and a gun cleaning kit. The accommodation, Bice House, is an eight-story dorm with fully furnished two- and three-bedroom apartments for second, third and fourth-year UVa students.

Candles, incense, oil lamps, hookahs, BB guns, bows and arrows, slingshots, paintball guns, ammunition, explosives, knives with blades longer than four inches, martial arts tools and swords are among the items listed on the UVa Housing and Residence Life hazardous prohibited items list that is headed by a section called "firearms and weapons."

The Office of Student Affairs does not conduct criminal background checks on incoming and existing students, according to an office employee who preferred not to provide their name. According to the Student Affairs arrest self-disclosure form, students who have been arrested or convicted of a crime since being admitted to UVa are expected to report so on the student portal, NetBadge. Each fall a prompt in the portal asks students whether they have been arrested or convicted of a crime.

It is unclear how Jones responded to the NetBadge prompt in 2021 and 2022.

In June 2021 Jones was convicted of a concealed carry violation during a traffic stop in Chesterfield and received a 10-month suspended sentence. In September 2021 Jones was convicted of a hit-and-run accident with damage and reckless driving. He received a 12-month suspended sentence for both crimes.

UVa policy conducts background checks on all employees, volunteers and medical students before granting them access to the university.

During a press conference on Monday, UVa Police Department Chief Timothy Longo said that Jones came to the attention of the university’s threat assessment team this fall. In September, of the Office of Student Affairs told the university’s threat assessment team that it received information that Jones made a comment about possessing a firearm to a person who was unaffiliated with UVa.

“That reporting person, again unaffiliated with the university, to the best of our knowledge, never saw the gun,” Longo said. “The comment about Mr. Jones owning a gun was not made in conjunction with any threats. The Office of Student Affairs followed up with the reporting person and made efforts to contact Mr. Jones. In fact, they followed up with Mr. Jones’ roommate, who did not report seeing the presence of a weapon.”

The UVa policy website states that the response to violations of the weapons policy may result in “enhanced safety and security protocols,” which may include installing metal detection equipment, a clear bag protocol or a photo I.D. requirement for entry to university property.


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