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Three University of Virginia students are dead and two are injured after a shooting

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Today classes were canceled on college campuses in Virginia and in Idaho after separate but devastating events yesterday. At the University of Idaho, four students were found dead at a house near campus. Police are investigating the deaths as homicides. And in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, today officials announced they had arrested the lone suspect in a shooting that left three students dead and sent two to the hospital. The suspect, a 22-year-old student, was picked up in a suburb of Richmond and charged with three counts of second-degree murder. Sandy Hausman is Charlottesville bureau chief for Virginia Public Radio. Hey, Sandy.

SANDY HAUSMAN, BYLINE: Hello.

KELLY: Give us some details of what exactly happened last night.

HAUSMAN: Well, the university held a news conference today to share some details of what now appears to have been a truly terrifying attack. There were about 25 students who'd gone up to Washington for a play, and they returned last night aboard a chartered bus at around 10 o'clock. And at that point, someone on the bus started shooting, killing three young men, all of them promising members of the UVA football team. D'Sean Perry from Florida and Devin Chandler from North Carolina were killed on the bus. Their teammate, Lavel Davis of South Carolina, was rushed to UVA's Medical Center, where he died from his wounds. Two other students are hospitalized. Their names have not been released. And we don't know if they played football for UVA.

KELLY: What do we know about the suspect?

HAUSMAN: Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. had also been on the university's football team in 2018, but UVA President Jim Ryan said he was no longer playing.

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JIM RYAN: To my knowledge, he was no longer on the football team and hadn't been on the team for over a year.

HAUSMAN: We don't know whether he left voluntarily or was cut, and the university couldn't say if he was acquainted with the victims of Sunday night's shooting. What they did say was that Jones had come to the attention of a threat assessment team on campus in September because he allegedly claimed to have a gun. But in the end, campus police chief Tim Longo said no action was taken.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TIM LONGO: The comment about Mr. Jones owning a gun was not made in conjunction with any threats.

HAUSMAN: The threat assessment team questioned Jones' roommate, who said he had not seen a weapon. But in the course of their probe, investigators discovered a criminal charge that Jones had failed to disclose.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LONGO: We learned of a prior criminal incident involving a concealed weapon violation that occurred outside the city of Charlottesville in February of 2021. It's required as a student at the University of Virginia to report that, and he never did. And so the university has taken appropriate administrative charges.

KELLY: Sandy, I'm trying to imagine what that has been like for students on campus with a manhunt underway in their college town. What are they telling you?

HAUSMAN: It was a real nightmare. I spoke with the editor of the student newspaper, Eva Surovell, who said the university shared information about the emergency with text messages every 15 minutes. Students were first told to shelter in place, but later a text advised them to run, hide, fight.

EVA SUROVELL: That was something I never thought I would see pop up on my phone.

HAUSMAN: The lockdown continued until around 11 this morning. Classes were canceled, and Surovell said students were offered counseling to deal with the emotional fallout from what happened.

SUROVELL: We're all Gen Z. We've grown up watching students, people our age, children being shot in schools. We've grown up with school shooting drills. But that doesn't make you any more prepared for it to be your school.

HAUSMAN: UVA President Jim Ryan wrote to students this morning saying he was heartbroken and pledging to organize a community event so students, faculty and staff could grieve together.

KELLY: Sandy Hausman of WVTF in Charlottesville, thank you.

HAUSMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.