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Problem Solvers requested 577 records related to shooting suspect Chris Jones. UVA said no.

Posted at 4:34 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 15:22:35-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- There are 577 electronic files that exist at the University of Virginia related to Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.'s involvement with the University's Threat Assessment Team and the school's investigation into an alleged hazing issue where Jones' name was mentioned. UVA officials have declined to release those records.

Jones Jr., 23, is charged with murdering three UVA football players in a November campus shooting.

A Freedom of Information Act Officer at UVA cited the Virginia code that allowed the university to withhold the records if they desire.

The withheld records include "memoranda, notes, reports, witness statements, and student records," according to the FOIA officer.

CBS 6 Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit submitted the request to help answer questions about the actions UVA did or did not take prior to the shooting to assess the potential threat Jones posed to the community.

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UVA spokesperson Brian Coy said that UVA Student Affairs reviewed a potential hazing issue on September 15, 2022, when a student said Jones made a comment about possessing a gun.

Coy claimed the comment was not made in conjunction with a threat.

Still, UVA Police Chief Tim Longo said the person in student affairs contacted the Threat Assessment Team.

Coy said university officials made contact with Jones' roommate who gave no indication of the presence of any weapons. Jones himself refused to cooperate.

Coy said that during the investigation, university officials discovered Jones was previously convicted of a misdemeanor concealed weapons violation in 2021. The CBS 6 Problem Solvers confirmed the misdemeanor happened in Chesterfield County.

UVA Student Affairs opted to escalate Jones's case for disciplinary action on October 27, 2022, through the University Judiciary Committee, which is a student-run body authorized to investigate and adjudicate alleged conduct violations. But Coy said they still had not been able to reach Jones.

Coy said student affairs never actually transmitted its report on Jones to the University Judiciary Committee, so no action was taken.

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan has asked the Virginia Attorney General to investigate the efforts the university undertook in the period before the tragedy to assess the potential threat that Jones posed to the UVA community.

University of Virginia Shooting Football
University of Virginia President Jim Ryan speaks during a memorial service for three slain University of Virginia football players Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler at John Paul Jones Arena at the school in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.

Suspect in deadly UVA football shooting appears in court

Jones Jr. appeared in an Albemarle courtroom on Thursday.

He sat quietly as his public defender, a prosecutor and Judge Kenneth Andrew Sneathern scheduled a preliminary hearing for March 30, 2023.

If the judge decides after hearing from witnesses that the state has enough evidence to establish probable cause that Jones committed the killings, he'll send the case to a grand jury. Commonwealth's Attorney James Hingeley told the judge that the state plans to call a large number of witnesses.

Jones has not yet entered a plea, and Public Defender Liz Murtagh declined to comment.

Jones, a former member of the football team, is accused of opening fire on a charter bus as he and other students arrived back on campus after seeing a play and having dinner together in Washington, D.C.

Authorities have not released a motive. A witness told police the gunman targeted specific victims. Football players Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed, while a fourth member of the team, Mike Hollins, and another student were wounded.

Jones is being held without bond on second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting, which set off a manhunt and 12-hour campus lockdown before Jones was apprehended in Henrico County. His first Albemarle General District Court hearing was by video link from jail.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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