Charlottesville, Va. (AP) — Across the University of Virginia, students huddled inside laboratory closets and dark dorm rooms while others barricaded the doors of its stately academic buildings, far from library windows. . hide Fight.”
Responding to the immediate threat of a campus shooting was a moment they had been preparing for since their early years in elementary school. But dealing with the emotional toll of the attack, which left three members of the school’s football team dead late Sunday, left students reeling.
“This is going to affect our campus for a long, long time,” said Shannon Lake, a third-year student from Crossett, Virginia.
For 12 hours, she hid with friends and other students, much of that time in a storage closet, before authorities took the suspect into custody Monday morning.
When Lake and the others heard that someone was outside the business school building, they all decided to go into the closet, turn off the lights, and barricade the door.
“That was probably the scariest moment because it became more real to us and reminded us of practicing school lockdowns as kids. And it was kind of an amazing moment, you know, I don’t think any of us were really processing what was happening,” she said.
Police have charged 22-year-old student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. with three counts of second-degree murder, saying the three victims were killed on a charter bus carrying students returning from a play in Washington just after 10:15 p.m. Two other students were injured.
University President Jim Ryan said authorities do not have a complete understanding of the motive or circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Police conducted a building-by-building search of the campus as students sheltered in place before the lockdown order was lifted on Monday morning.
Charlotte Gobb, a student who lives in an apartment about half a mile (800 meters) from the scene of the shooting, immediately checked her doors and turned off the lights after being notified by the school.
“It’s hard for me to understand that this is happening,” she said. “Even if you spent all your upbringing knowing this would happen.”
Fourth-year student Ellie Wilkie was about to leave her room on the university’s proud, historic lawn in the center of campus when her group texts with friends began to explode with word of the shooting. But she didn’t immediately barricade herself.
“I think our generation is used to these exercises and because it’s so normal, I didn’t think it was that serious until I got an email saying ‘Run.’ hide Fight, all caps,” she said.
Wilkie moved a large trunk he used for storage in front of the door and placed his mattress on top of it. She turned off the lights, unplugged anything making noise, put her phone on do-not-disturb mode, crawled under the cover of her top bunk, and texted her mother, who called back in a panic.
She picked up but told her mother: “I have to pick up the phone now. I can’t make noise here.
University Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said the suspect was once on the football team but had not been a part of the team for at least a year. The UVA football website listed Jones as a team member for the 2018 season and said he did not play in any games.
It was not immediately clear if Jones has an attorney or when he will make his first court appearance.
Hours after Jones’ arrest, first-year head football coach Tony Elliott sat alone outside the athletic building used by the team, sometimes with his head on his head. He said the victims were all good children.
Elizabeth Paul Clemons was working on a desktop computer in the library when she got the call from her mother about the shooting. She thought it was a small matter, until she was alerted to an active shooter on the computer she was using.
For 12 hours, she huddled with several others under the windows of the library, hoping they would disappear when the gunfire erupted. She spent most of the night on the phone with her mother.
“I don’t even talk to her all the time, but if I need anything, she’s there,” Paul said.
M. Gunter, a second-year anthropology student, was studying genetics in her dorm room when she heard three gunshots and three gunshots.
She told everyone on her floor to go to their rooms, close their blinds and turn off the lights. Students know how to react from active shooter drills, she said.
“But how do we deal with that later?” she asked. “How will it be in a week, a month?”
Seaver reported from Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press writer Ben Finley in Norfolk contributed to this report. Denise Lavoie of Richmond, Va.; Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, MD. Hank Kurz of Charlottesville, Va.; Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire; and news researcher Rhonda Schaffner; So are video journalist Nathan Elgren and photographer Steve Helber in Charlottesville.