The gun shop that sold the guns says the suspected gunman in Sunday’s shooting at the University of Virginia — which killed three students and wounded two others — legally bought guns on two separate occasions after being barred from it years ago.
The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, tried to buy a gun in 2018 and 2021, but neither the sale nor the transfer was completed, Dan’s Sporting Goods owner Marlon Dance told CNN.
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.
The statement said the defendant was able to purchase a rifle in February and a 9mm pistol in July, adding that the 2022 purchases were “nothing significant.”
Police are investigating the circumstances behind the shooting that tore through the Charlottesville community and claimed the lives of three Virginia Cavaliers football players.
Devin Chandler, LaVall Davis Jr. and DeSean Perry were on a field trip with Jones — a one-time UVA football player of the year in 2018 — According to a university spokesperson, other students will be in Washington, D.C., to see a play.
As the bus returned to UVA’s main campus in Charlottesville Sunday night, Jones opened fire, killing three people and wounding two others.
Hollins, the Cavaliers running back, underwent two successful surgeries, his family said in a statement Wednesday.
Without specifying which person, UVA Health spokesman Eric Swensen said Wednesday that one of the injured was in fair condition and the other had been released from medical care. CNN has reached out to Morgan’s family for comment.
It’s unclear if any of the weapons Jones purchased this year were used in Sunday’s shooting, but police confirmed that his ability to purchase firearms in 2021 was preemptively blocked 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.
Jones was the subject of a gun-related investigation by the university’s Judicial Council prior to the shooting, according to university spokesman Brian Coy. Jones “repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials,” and his case was elevated for further review and possible disciplinary action, Coe said.
UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said Jones was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony in Sunday’s shooting. He also faces two malicious wounding, along with a gun charge each.
Jones’ first court appearance Wednesday resulted in his being held without bond, the court ordered. He 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.
Student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV that he was on the bus where the shooting happened and saw Jones push one of the victims.
“Chris got up and pushed Laval,” Lynch said. “After he pushed him, he was like, ‘You always mess with me.’ Said something weird like that, but it was really weird because they didn’t talk to him the whole trip.
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.
A witness to the shooting said one of the three victims, Devin Chandler, was shot while he was sleeping, according to Hingley during his court appearance Wednesday.
After a campus lockdown and a manhunt for the suspected shooter, Jones was seen driving a vehicle and was apprehended by police Monday about 80 miles east of Charlottesville in Henrico County.
Students, faculty and the community gathered Monday night for a candlelight vigil on campus to commemorate the lives of Perry, Davis and Chandler.
“We are all blessed to have them in our lives.” Cavaliers head coach Tony Elliott Said about all three. “They have touched us, inspired us and worked incredibly hard as representatives of our program, university and community.”
Elliott said at a news conference Tuesday that Davis was described as a gentle giant whose smile would light up a room. Elliott added, “How much he loves his teammates and would do anything for his teammates.”
Perry was “a delightful, honorable, hard-working individual, one of the finest young men our community has to offer,” said Earl Sims Jr., his high school football coach, who described Perry as “like a son” on Wednesday. ”
Perry’s family said in a statement that he made his family proud through his faith and good deeds.
“Football and art were his passions, but his love for his family, friends and community was demonstrated time and again through his sincere dedication. We truly appreciate the outpouring of love and support from so many people. We continue to keep the families of the victims of this senseless tragedy in our prayers,” she said.
Adam Sykes, Chandler’s former high school coach, said Chandler “wanted to please those around him” and often put others first.
“Even in his junior year, when his dad passed away in the middle of the season, he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to play this week. My dad would have wanted me to play this week. That was his character: always thinking of others,” Sykes said.
The Cavaliers’ upcoming game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday has been canceled. A memorial service will be held Saturday afternoon at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.