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University of Virginia reaches multi-million settlement with families. Why they say it’s not enough

'The families still do not have all of the facts about what happened to their sons. It is time for UVA and the Commonwealth to release the Report. The families deserve to know what happened.'
Posted at 3:20 PM, Jun 01, 2024

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia has reached a $9 million settlement with the families of three college football players who were killed in a 2022 mass shooting after a school field trip, school officials and attorneys for the families and victims announced Friday.

Attorneys told CNN in statements on behalf of the victims’ families the settlement does not bring them any closure and strongly urged for the results of the attorney general’s independent review of the shooting to be released.

University spokesperson Brian Coy said a judge in the Albemarle County Circuit Court approved settlement agreements between the university and the estates of football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.

The three men were killed on November 13, 2022, when a fellow student opened fire on a bus returning to the Charlottesville campus from a class field trip to Washington, D.C. where the class had seen a play.

Two other people, Marlee Morgan and Michael Hollins, were injured by the gunfire. Suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a former football player, faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Tim Longo said.

UVA Tragedy Football Players Killed

He also faces two counts of malicious wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge, said Albemarle County prosecutor James Hingeley. The motive behind the killing of three UVA Cavaliers remains a mystery, the university’s president said.

An attorney for the Perry family, Elliott Buckner, told CNN the settlement will be paid by the Commonwealth of Virginia “pursuant to its Division of Risk Management Plan.” The families of Chandler, Davis and Perry will each receive $2 million and $3 million will go to Morgan and Hollins, Buckner said.

In an email to CNN, Coy said both parties reached an agreement “in principle on the terms of the settlement” and said it was approved by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares before the court’s approval.

University President Jim Ryan and Rector Robert Hardie said in a statement: “Since November 13, 2022, the families of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry—whose lives were tragically cut short—have been ever present in our minds.”

“We will forever remember the impact that Devin, Lavel, and D’Sean had on our community, and we are grateful for the moments they spent in our presence uplifting UVA through their time in the classroom and on the football field,” they said.

CNN reached out to the attorney general and the governor for comment.

Kimberly Wald, a lawyer for The Perry, Hollins and Morgan families, told CNN the court finalized the $9 million “global settlement in this case” with the families of the three students who were killed and the two who were injured.

Wald said the results of the independent investigation into the shooting, launched by Miyares, have not been released.

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Families demand release of external probe

Miyares announced days after the tragedy he would begin an independent review at the request of Ryan and then-rector Whitt Clement of the university’s response to the shooting, as well as the efforts it undertook in the period before it.

The attorney for the victims’ families said they are “demanding the release of the information to understand what happened and why it happened and then initiate reforms across the U.S. at college campuses to save lives.”

Victoria LaCivita, Miyares’ spokesperson, previously said the AG’s office will enlist special counsel to assist in completing the work.

“A public report will be shared with students, families, the larger UVA community, and government officials at the appropriate time,” LaCivita said. “The Attorney General will work with deliberate speed while ensuring that all necessary resources remain devoted to the criminal investigation being conducted by state and local authorities.”

Perry attorney Buckner echoed Wald regarding the independent review, telling CNN the settlements approved by the court “do not bring the families any closure.”

“The families still do not have all of the facts about what happened to their sons. It is time for UVA and the Commonwealth to release the Report. The families deserve to know what happened,” Buckner said.

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The suspect was denied bail during a hearing in a few days after the shooting that revealed he was charged and convicted of a reckless driving and hit-and-run in 2021 and had a concealed weapons charge the same year. He received suspended sentences for all the offenses.

Jones bought two guns, a semiautomatic rifle and a pistol, in separate purchases in 2022, according to the owner of Dance’s Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights, CNN previously reported.

But Jones also had twice unsuccessfully to buy a firearm there, Marlon Dance told CNN in an email. In 2018, he was younger than the legal age of 21 to buy a handgun and was denied a purchase. Three years later he tried to buy a rifle, but failed a background check, according to Dance.

In an email to CNN, Virginia State Police Spokesperson Corinne Geller said an investigation into the attempted purchase on July 8, 2021, revealed the state police firearms transaction center denied Jones’ request based on an ongoing legal matter.

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