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Special counsel to review UVA's actions ahead of shooting

A person kneels to write a note on a wall commemorating the three UVA football players who were killed Sunday.
A person kneels on the University of Virginia campus to write a note commemorating the three UVA football players who were killed Sunday. (Photo: Scott Elmquist/VPM News)

Updated 4:46 p.m. Thursday.

Attorney General Jason Miyares has agreed to appoint a special counsel to conduct an independent review of whether the University of Virginia did all it could to prevent the Sunday shooting in Charlottesville. 

“This will likely take a while, but we will share and act upon what we ultimately learn,” UVA President Jim Ryan, who requested the investigation, said via a video the university posted Wednesday night. 

University Rector Whitt Clement said in a Thursday press release that he also supports the review. 

“After a tragedy of this nature, it is important for the affected institution to take a hard look at what circumstances led up to the event and, how the University responded in the moment,” Clement said. “Once an external review commences, we expect it to be the central avenue by which we gain a deeper understanding about what led to this tragic event. While many details of the review will involve protected student information or other confidential details, the University will provide as much information as we can through a summary report of the review’s findings and recommendations, once it is complete.” 

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. is suspected of killing three UVA football players and injuring two others while aboard a charter bus that had just returned to Charlottesville from a field trip. He was denied bond Wednesday and is being held at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Jones faces multiple charges, including three counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler.

Virginia State Police is taking over the criminal investigation of Sunday’s fatal shooting. State police have been coordinating with university, local and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation. According to a VSP press release, the agency will take over due to multiple jurisdictions being involved. 

“VSP is able to bring additional resources and personnel to this active and complex investigation,” the release said. 

Investigators recovered a handgun near the scene of the shooting, according to another press release from VSP Thursday. Investigators also found a rifle and a handgun inside Jones’ residence in Charlottesville. VSP said the firearms have been turned over as evidence to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  

UVA classes have resumed a normal schedule, but a Saturday UVA Cavaliers football game has been canceled. Instead, a memorial service is planned for 3:30 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.