Three dead, two injured in University of Virginia campus shooting

Three university football players have been killed, and police say that Christopher Darnell Jones, the suspect in the shooting, is in custody.

Police officers at the site of a Virginia Tech shooting
This is not the first time that a university campus has witnessed a shooting incident in Virginia in the United States [File: Chris Keane/Reuters]

US police have held a student on second-degree murder charges after a shooting on the campus of the University of Virginia (UVA) killed three people and wounded two others.

“Police have the suspect in custody,” UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo announced on Monday. Longo thanked law enforcement for responding to the incident “very quickly”

Student Christopher Darnell Jones, 22, was arrested hours after the shooting that unfolded at 10:30 pm Sunday (03:30 GMT on Monday) at the school in Charlottesville, Virginia, attended by 25,000 students. He was being held on three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, Longo said.

The shooting targeted a bus full of students returning from an off-campus trip. All three of the students killed, Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry were members of the university’s American football team. Jones had previously been a team member, but not for at least a year. Authorities have said that the motive for the attack is not yet clear.

Chandler and Perry died on the scene, while Davis died of his wounds at a hospital. Two other students were wounded and taken to UVA Medical Center, where one is in good condition and another in critical condition, Longo said.

The shooting unfolded on a bus full of students after it pulled into a parking garage on campus, UVA President James E Ryan said. The students had just returned from a class field trip to see a play in Washington, DC.

Jones was armed with a handgun, Longo said.

“We are working closely with the families of the victims, and we will share additional detail as soon as we are able”, Ryan wrote in a message to the community early on Monday morning.

“Our University Police Department has joined forces with other law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect, and we will keep our community apprised of developments as the situation evolves.”

Classes for Monday were cancelled, and counselling and psychological support would be made available to students and faculty, Ryan added.

Eva Surovell, the editor-in-chief of the Cavalier Daily student newspaper, told The Washington Post that people are “genuinely scared”

“The second we all got that message that there was an active shooter, my phone flooded with messages,” she said. “You just don’t really think something could happen like this to your community until it does.

This is not the first time that a university campus in Virginia has witnessed a shooting incident.

In February this year, two campus police officers were shot dead at Bridgewater College after reports of a suspicious man near a school building.

In 2007, Virginia Tech experienced one of the worst mass shootings in US history when an undergraduate student killed 32 people before shooting himself on April 16 of that year.

Sunday’s shooting is the latest in a wave of gun violence on US college and high school campuses in recent years. The bloodshed has fuelled a debate over tighter restrictions on access to guns in the country.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies