University of Virginia shooting inspires grief, evaluation of emergency protocol

Washington and Lee held a candlelight vigil in the wake of a shooting at U-Va. that left three dead and two wounded


Bri Hatch

Hundreds of students, faculty and staff gather Monday evening for a candlelight vigil mourning the deaths of three U-Va. students.

Bri Hatch and Shauna Muckle

Washington and Lee students, faculty and staff gathered at a candlelight vigil on Monday night to mourn three students who died in a shooting at University of Virginia the night before.

The shooting was first reported around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, when law enforcement responded to reports of shots fired on campus at a garage on Culbreth Road. Soon after, U-Va. issued a shelter-in-place order and went into lockdown for 12 hours.  

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a U-Va. student, was arrested and charged with the shooting deaths of three current football players—Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry—as well as the wounding of two others, the New York Times reported Monday. 

The suspect is being charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, the Times reported. 

U-Va. canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday. Public schools in the surrounding county were also closed Monday, the Times reported. 

The Times also reported that the order was lifted after Jones was arrested without incident in Henrico County, near Richmond. 

According to the Times, football players had just returned from a class trip to see a play. They were attacked as their bus pulled into a campus parking garage, university President Jim Ryan said at a news conference on Monday.

The Times reported that Jones was a running back on the 2018 team, but he did not appear in any games, and was not on the roster in subsequent seasons.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Monday that Jones was being investigated by U-Va. for claiming he owned a gun. He was also convicted of a concealed weapons violation last year, university officials said.

Washington and Lee responded to the nearby incident of gun violence with a cautionary email to students on Monday. 

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sidney Evans reminded students of emergency resources on campus, including mass texts sent through General Alerts and the LiveSafe App, which allows students to dial 911 at any time. 

“It is understandable that an event such as this would cause concern within our campus community,” the email read. “In the coming days, our thoughts will remain with the U-Va. community as they mourn those lost in last night’s events.”

Virginia colleges have endured multiple shootings in 2022: the shooting Sunday night was at least the fifth since February on or near campuses in Virginia, the Times reported.

Campus religious organizations organized a gathering for prayers and reflections Monday. Later that evening, the university held a candlelight vigil for the campus community.

After brief remarks from President Will Dudley, hundreds of Washington and Lee community members sat on the steps of the Cohen Family Amphitheater in silence, holding candles in remembrance. 

“Banding together as a community really shows our support, and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Reagan Reiferson, ’26, who attended the vigil. “I really appreciate that the school put this on because I feel like it’s a really great way to send prayers to those that passed away and those that are in critical condition.”

Executive Committee President James Torbert, ’23, who coordinated the vigil with Evans, said the shooting is especially upsetting for Washington and Lee community members because of their strong ties to the Charlottesville-based university. 

“A lot of W&L students have really close connections with U-Va. students,” Torbert said. “So people were constantly in touch with U-Va. Students were trying to figure out what was going on. And on social media, it was really complicated at first because no one really knew what was happening.”

Reiferson said the tragedy feels “surreal” because of U-Va.’s close proximity. 

“This just really puts it into perspective to not sweat the little things and just how fragile life is,” she said.

For students from Charlottesville, the shooting feels even more personal.  

“It just feels really weird to not be at home,” Jill Gallardo, ’23, said. 

And for others, the news was more of a wake-up call. 

“This morning, I got zero of the classes I wanted and I was really upset. I went to my room and cried,” Mary Kate Richards, ’26, said. “And then I saw on Yik Yak actually about this, and I was like, ‘Mary Kate, put things into perspective. There’s so much worse going on, and there’s so much to be grateful for.’”