Head to the University of Virginia’s athletics website, and the pearly white smiles of three football players — Lavel Davis Jr., 20; Devin Chandler, 20; and D’Sean Perry, 22 — killed in a shooting Sunday evening — shine on the site’s front page.
Classes were canceled on Monday and Tuesday as the university’s community worked through the grief and emotional toll of the horrific shooting. And in a statement, Virginia Head Football Coach Tony Elliott said that the three “were incredible young men with huge aspirations and extremely bright futures.”
How did those futures get snuffed out? 22-year-old fellow student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr was able to get his hands on a gun.
UVA police chief Timothy Longo admitted in a press conference that the university’s multi-disciplinary threat assessment team received information in September that Jones had a gun on campus.
Jones was arrested on Monday morning and charged with three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.
Now, in the aftermath of the shooting, Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin and other policymakers are facing renewed calls for stricter gun laws.
A Never-Ending Spiral of Violence
“We don’t have to accept this sad reality that nowhere is safe from gun violence,” Shannon Watts, founder of the grassroots organization Moms Demand Action said in a statement. ”We must continue to demand action from our elected leaders so we can prevent senseless violence and help save lives.”
Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center, said the spiral of violence is impacting the next generation more than any other demographic, and “we cannot live with gun violence.”
In 2022, there were at least 152 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, with over 300 shootings on grounds of a college or university since 2013.
Governor Youngkin, who is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, received plenty of pushback for his Nov. 14 Twitter post referring to the UVA mass shooting as an “event.”
“It was not an ‘event’ Glenn. It was a mass shooting in your state and under your leadership. It was gun violence. Glenn, call it what it is,” tweeted anti gun-violence activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime Guttenberg was murdered in 2018 during in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.