The University of Virginia canceled its final home football game of the season Wednesday, the same day a student accused of killing three members of the team and wounding two other students in an on-campus shooting appeared in court for his first hearing.
“The Virginia athletics department announced today (Nov. 16) the Cavaliers’ home football game vs. Coastal Carolina scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19 has been canceled. The decision was made following the shooting of five students on Grounds Sunday night,” the school said on its website Wednesday.
University President Jim Ryan said Wednesday night that there would instead be a memorial service Saturday “to honor the lives” of the three slain football players, along with the two other students who were wounded.
University officials and police have said Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, joined a group of about two dozen others on a field trip Sunday from the Charlottesville campus to see a play in the nation’s capital, about 120 miles away. When their bus arrived back on campus, authorities said the suspect opened fire, killing Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler, and wounding two others, including football player Mike Hollins.
Hollins does not yet know three of his friends and teammates were killed, his mother told CBS News.
In her first television interview since the shooting, Brenda Hollins told CBS News that her son, a running back for the school’s football team, is using pen and paper to ask about his friends.
“He can’t talk, but he has written D’Sean’s name,” she said. “He has written Devin’s name. And then I believe it was an L — I don’t know what he was writing at the bottom, but he was taking the marker and beating on it because he wants to know.”
The suspect — who police have said was able to flee the shooting scene, setting off a manhunt and 12-hour campus lockdown — faces three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and additional gun-related charges.
The violence at the state’s flagship public university has set off days of mourning among students and faculty, the broader Charlottesville community and other supporters. Classes resumed Wednesday.
No decision has been made yet about whether UVA will participate in its final game of the season on Nov. 26 against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
On Wednesday, the suspect appeared by video link from a local jail. He did not enter a plea to the charges and said he plans to hire an attorney. A judge ordered him held without bond and appointed a public defender to represent him until he secures private counsel.
The suspect has been in custody since he was arrested in suburban Richmond late Monday morning.
Ryan said Monday that authorities did not have a “full understanding” of the motive behind the shooting. Court documents filed so far in the matter have offered no additional insight, and Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley did not address a possible motive Wednesday.
The suspect was a member of the football team during the 2018 season, a one-semester walk-on, according to athletics director Carla Williams.
In interviews, his father has expressed confusion and astonishment and apologized to the victims’ families.