University police said in a tweet that they were looking for Christopher Darnell Jones “regarding the shooting incident.” Jones is 22 and may be a former football player, according to a 2018 roster. Police later described Jones as a suspect in the shooting. There was a massive manhunt for Jones into the early morning hours, involving a state police helicopter and multiple law enforcement agencies.
Jones, according to a U-Va. sports website, was a freshman on the football team in 2018 but did not appear in any games. He had previously played linebacker and running back at Petersburg High School in Virginia. Before that, he spent three years at Varina High School, where he was an accomplished player. It was not immediately known whether he is still a U-Va. student, but two students said he still is listed in the U-Va. directory.
Just before midnight, the emergency management office urged students to continue sheltering in place and to “reach out to friends & family and advise of your status.” The shelter in place order was still in effect at 3 a.m.
In a message that followed about 1:15 a.m., Vice President and Dean of Students Robyn S. Hadley exhorted the community: “Please, please take the shelter in place commands seriously as the situation remains active.” Later, the emergency management office said multiple police agencies were “actively searching for the suspect.”
“The second we all got that message that there was an active shooter, my phone flooded with messages,” said Eva Surovell, 21, of Alexandria, Va., who is editor in chief of the Cavalier Daily student newspaper. “People are genuinely scared.”
As of 2 a.m. Monday, Surovell said she was sheltering in her room on the university’s famed Lawn. She said she had been in touch with her mom and her sister at James Madison University to reassure them. “You just don’t really think something could happen like this to your community until it does.”
This is not the first time this year that a shooting has rocked a college campus in Virginia. In February, two campus police officers at Bridgewater College were fatally shot after they were checking out a report of a “suspicious man” near a classroom building. The suspect linked to their deaths was a former student.
Also in February, a late-night shooting at a hookah lounge near the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg left one person dead and four injured, police said. In 2007, Virginia Tech experienced one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history when an undergraduate student killed 32 people, and himself, on April 16 of that year.