Virginia Attorney General Jason Miares will begin an external review of the deadly shooting at the University of Virginia, nearly a week after three football players were killed and two others injured, and new details emerge about the suspect’s attempted gun purchase.
Miares announced his review Thursday at the request of UVA President Jim Ryan and university chancellor Whit Clements, who wanted an “independent review outside of the expert special counsel … of the university’s response to the shooting and the efforts the university made in the period before the tragedy.”
Miares’ spokeswoman Victoria Lacivita said in a statement that the AG’s office will hire a special counsel to help complete the work.
“A public report will be shared with students, families, the greater UVA community and government officials at the appropriate time,” LaCivita said. “The Attorney General will act with deliberate speed, ensuring that all necessary resources are devoted to criminal investigations conducted by state and local authorities.”
The AG’s announcement comes as the campus, Charlottesville community and Atlantic Coast Conference universities continue to mourn the deaths of UVA football players Devin Chandler, LaVall Davis Jr. and DeSean Perry. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.
The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was denied bond Wednesday. He faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said. He also faces two malicious wounding, along with a gun charge each.
Jones remains in custody at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, online records show, and his next court appearance is in December, Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingely said.
Marlon Dance, owner of Dance Sporting Goods, told CNN that Jones tried to buy a gun in 2018 and 2021, but no sale or transfer was completed.
Jones was legally under 21 to buy a handgun in 2018 and failed a background check to buy a rifle in 2021 because of a pending criminal conviction.
“Jones did not receive any of the firearms he attempted to purchase, and both purchases were turned over to the Virginia State Police for further investigation,” Dance said in a statement.
He purchased a rifle in February and a 9mm pistol in July, but was later able to purchase firearms legally, according to the statement. There was “nothing remarkable” about the 2022 purchases.
It’s unclear if any of the weapons Jones purchased were used in Sunday’s shooting, but police confirmed that his ability to purchase firearms in 2021 has been put on hold due to an ongoing legal issue.
A pending charge Jones faced “was reduced by the court to a misdemeanor in October 2021, thereby removing the prohibition against future purchases,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a statement.
According to university spokesman Brian Coy, Jones was the subject of a gun-related investigation by the university’s Judicial Council prior to the shooting when a student reported that Jones “made a comment to him about having a gun.” Jones “repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials,” and his case was elevated for further review and possible disciplinary action, Coe said.
UVA student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV that he was on the bus where the shooting happened and saw Jones push Lavelle Davis Jr.
“After he pushed him, he was like, ‘You’re always messing with me.’ He said something weird like that, but it was really weird because they didn’t talk to him the whole trip,” Lynch said.
Lynch later heard gunshots, she told KYW.
“They kept coming, more and more shots,” she said. “We thought he was going to shoot everyone on the bus.”
But “the shooter kind of walked away or got off the bus,” Lynch said.
During his court appearance Wednesday, a witness to the shooting said one of the three victims, Devin Chandler, was shot while he was sleeping, Commonwealth’s Attorney Hingely said.
After a campus lockdown and hours of manhunt for the suspected shooter, Jones was spotted driving a vehicle and was apprehended by police Monday about 80 miles east of Charlottesville in Henrico County.
Along with the three actors who were fatally shot, two others were injured in the firing. The prosecutor identified Michael Hollins and Marley Morgan.
CNN reached out to Marley Morgan’s family.
Hollins, also a UVA football player, was intubated and removed from the hospital’s intensive care unit, a family friend told CNN on Thursday.
“Mike was great today,” Joe Gipson said. “He is in intermediate care and progressing positively. Hopefully he will start taking some steps today.
A day earlier, Hollins’ family said he had two successful surgeries and asked for the community’s prayers.
“We would like to begin by thanking God for His grace guiding our family through this unspeakable tragedy. Mike successfully made it through two surgeries in the last 48 hours. We would like to thank his doctors and care team at the University of Virginia Hospital. “In the coming days and weeks, Mike will begin the long process of healing,” the statement said.
“As Mike embarks on the path of healing physically, emotionally and spiritually, the process takes time. We ask that you respect his privacy and continue to give him room to heal.