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Student suspect in custody after 3 football players shot dead and 2 people wounded at the University of Virginia, police say

Nov 14, 2022, 9:47 AM
Charlottesville police secure a crime scene of an overnight shooting at the University of Virginia,...
Charlottesville police secure a crime scene of an overnight shooting at the University of Virginia, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Charlottesville. Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(CNN) — [Breaking news update, published at 11:17 a.m. ET]

Police have in custody a University of Virginia student suspected of fatally shooting three football players and wounding two other people Sunday at the school’s main campus in Charlottesville.

[Original story, published at 11:02 a.m. ET]

A manhunt is underway for a University of Virginia student suspected of fatally shooting three people and wounding two others late Sunday at the school’s main campus in Charlottesville, police and the university’s president said.

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While a lockdown order has been lifted, search teams on the ground and by helicopter Monday morning are searching for ex-football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who is believed to be armed and dangerous, police and university president Jim Ryan said Monday. Darnell is described as wearing a burgundy jacket with blue jeans and red shoes, and may be driving a black SUV with license plate TWX3580, police said.

“The UVA shelter in place order has been lifted based upon a thorough search on and around Grounds. A large police presence will remain,” UVA Police tweeted around 10:30 a.m. ET. Monday classes at the university are canceled, as are those at Charlottesville City Schools, the K-12 district said in a letter to families.

Monday classes at the university are canceled, as are those at Charlottesville City Schools, the K-12 district said in a letter to families.

The shelter-in-place alert went out around 10:40 p.m. after a shooting was reported on Culbreth Road, the University of Virginia Police Department tweeted. Police in an initial tweet identified the shooting site as a parking garage that’s across the road from the university’s drama building and a stone’s throw from the band building, the fine arts library and the school of architecture.

Police have not offered a motive for the attack.

University officials have not identified the victims or said whether they were students. The two people wounded were getting medical care, Ryan said, adding he was devastated “that this violence has visited the University of Virginia.”

At least 68 shootings have unfolded this year on US school grounds, including 15 on college campuses, CNN finds, with at least one person shot in each case, not including the shooter. The deadliest school shooting in modern US history remains the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where a 23-year-old student killed 32 people before dying by suicide.

The shooting at the Charlottesville campus is also one of nearly 600 mass shootings in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which like CNN tallies cases in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.

The suspect is listed on UVA’s athletics website as a football player in 2018 who as a freshman did not participate in any games. Jones attended Varina High School and Petersburg High School, where he played football as a linebacker and running back, according to his university athletics bio. While in high school, Jones was Key Club president and a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society, the bio says.

‘Immediately seek safety,’ school VP warns students

UVA students early Monday were told to “take the shelter in place commands seriously as the situation remains active,” vice president and chief student affairs officer Robyn Hadley said in an email to UVA’s student body.

“We have all received several shelter in place texts, and they are frightening,” Hadley said, adding several police jurisdictions were working to find the suspect. “I am on grounds like many of you; I am sheltering in place and in direct touch with University leadership and UPD … If you are not inside and safe, immediately seek safety.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and his wife are praying for the school community, he said on Twitter, adding the Virginia State Police are “fully coordinating” with school and local police.

Meantime, another US campus — the University of Idaho — is reeling after police announced a homicide inquiry after officers Sunday discovered four people deceased in a home just outside Moscow campus grounds. The deceased were students, and the cause of their deaths is not yet known, the university confirmed, adding the threat has ended.

Sunday’s shooting is the University of Virginia’s latest high-profile run-in with violence: White nationalists in August 2017 marched across campus carrying torches and chanting racist slogans. A day later, demonstrators protesting Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee clashed with counterprotesters, one of whom was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd; that driver is serving life in prison.

A UVA lacrosse player five years earlier was convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison for the 2010 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, in her off-campus apartment.

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Student suspect in custody after 3 football players shot dead and 2 people wounded at the University of Virginia, police say