What next for UVA football after the shooting? Coach shares next steps. | Media Pyro



CHARLOTTESVILLE — In addition to supporting a distraught locker room following the fatal shooting of three Virginia football players, Cavaliers coach Tony Elliott also had to become a father. Those duties included talking to his two grandchildren about the tragic events that unfolded Sunday night.

Elliott’s oldest child, AJ, was especially close to LaVall Davis Jr., a junior wide receiver who died after a gunman opened fire on a bus in a campus garage, killing junior linebackers De Sean Perry and Devin.

A conversation with 9-year-old AJ underscores for Elliott the pain of unimaginable loss. It was only when AJ told his father that he realized Davis wasn’t coming back.

Remembering the 3 football players killed in the U-W campus shooting

“The hardest part of this is my boys and my 9-year-old,” Elliott said Tuesday afternoon, choking back tears, his voice cracking, then trailing off. “I mean, he considers these guys his friends, and that’s the tough thing, every time I see him, I think about the 125 guys I’ve got, and their moms see them that way.

“We’re taking it one day at a time and trying to teach a 9-year-old about the reality of life at a level he can understand. We put our arms around him, love him, support him, and try to teach him as much as he can understand.

The visceral emotions from those moments spilled over into the locker room, where Elliott spoke directly to all of his players Monday morning shortly after the shelter-in-place order was lifted.

Elliott paused Tuesday in relaying some of the details of that address at the school’s football facility, undecided whether the Cavaliers will play their final home game of the season Saturday against Coastal Carolina.

How does a U-V. Class trip ends in gunfire and death: ‘Get off the bus!’

Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said of the decision. “It will be a discussion with the coach and the team. Obviously, they go through a lot. We want to make sure they’re involved, so we’ll use our best judgment, but that’s going to happen soon. We will make a decision soon. “

Elliott arrived about 15 minutes late to Tuesday’s news conference, marking his first public statement since the tragedy, as he arrived at the hospital to visit Michael Hollins Jr., the junior running back who had a bullet removed after being shot in the back and undergoing a second surgery. He was not on a ventilator Tuesday, according to his father, Mike Sr.

Elliott declined to provide an update on Hollins, but according to a person with knowledge of his condition, the prognosis is positive, although Hollins remains in critical condition. Hollins’ mother, Brenda, has been posting updates about her son on social media.

Elliott and Williams, who were hired in December following the sudden and unexpected resignation of Bronco Mendenhall, the accused shooter, for a semester in 2018, did not elaborate on what the relationship was to the victims. or current team members.

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was arrested Monday and charged with three counts of second-degree murder.

“I don’t believe — there was no overlap,” Williams said of Jones’ time on the team and the time of Davis, Perry and Chandler, a transfer from Wisconsin. “So I don’t know if there was any interaction outside of class.”

Jones joined about 25 other students on a school trip to Washington on Sunday, where they attended a play and ate together, University Chief of Police Timothy Longo Sr. said at a Monday news conference. When students returned to campus, Jones opened fire around 10:30 p.m. Sunday for unknown reasons.

Accused U-V. The gunman was checked by a threat assessment team for a weapon

The elder Hollins said officers told him that Jones brought the gun onto the bus and waited until he returned to campus to start shooting.

“We’re focused on our players and their families,” Williams said. “It’s shocking that you want to love our players, so that’s what we did – that’s where we put our energy. That’s where we spent our time. And I think that’s what we need to continue to do. “

Elliott and Williams spoke for about half an hour in the media work room at John Paul Jones Arena to plan next steps with players and staff members, both on the field and the logistics of getting a full team to the memorial. services.

Williams noted that NCAA rules for attending such events are “permissive,” giving players plenty of latitude to travel and receive reimbursement for expenses.

“My first thoughts would be to be sensitive to whatever the young guys want to do with their teammates,” Elliott said. “According to Carla’s response, from an NCAA standpoint, I wouldn’t stand in the way of that because it’s bigger than football. This is the condition of life here.”

Nick Anderson, William Wan, Laura Vocella, John Woodrow Cox, Justin Jovenal, Karina Ellwood, Susan Zluga, Emily Davis, Keith L. and Alexander contributed to this report.


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